Activities of the BGR in the Antarctic
As a cosignatory of the Antarctic Treaty, the Federal Republic of Germany has committed itself to the exclusively peaceful use of all regions south of 60° latitude. The Antarctic expeditions of the BGR have contributed to the consultive status of the Federal Republic of Germany since 1981 and to maintain this status in the future.
Approximately 98 % of the continent Antarctica is covered by ice and only a few locations give access to geological studies. Antarctica is transected by the Transantarctic Mountains that represents Earth’s largest mountain chain. Northern Victoria Land, located at the Pacific termination of the Transantarctic Mountains, and the adjacent Ross Sea have been the main target area of the land-based geological and geophysics research of the BGR and its GANOVEX program since 1979 (German Antarctic North Victoria Land Expedition).
The expeditions of the BGR investigate geodynamic processes such as
- the assemblage and fragmentation of the supercontinent Gondwana, which included the continent Antarctica until ca. 180 Ma ago,
- the evolution of fold belts along the margins and in the internal parts of Gondwana,
- the development of the Ross Sea Rift, one of the largest rift areas on Earth, and the related deep sedimentary basins.
With other expeditions, the BGR contributed to the study of the central Transantarctic Mountains and its boundary to the Precambrian East Antarctic Craton and in the Shackleton Range that represents the continuation of this high-elevation mountain chain. In Dronning Maud Land, in the Atlantic sector of Antarctica, the main target was the investigation of large-scale geological structures within the East Antarctic Shield, as well as in the Prince Charles Mountains in Mac Robertson Land opposite of India. There, another major rift system, the Lambert Graben, is a further main subject of the research program of the BGR.
Antarctic expeditions are cost-intensive and are therefore increasingly organised in international cooperations. Main cooperation partners of the BGR are Italy, Australia, the United States, and New Zealand.
Together with the Alfred-Wegener-Institute of Polar and Marine Research and other German geoscience institutions, the BGR supports international research projects, for example the Cape Roberts Project, a drilling program at the Ross Sea coast, and its successor project ANDRILL.
The BGR is the host of the German branch of the.