Antarctic Geography

  1. A.P. Crary,
  2. L.M. Gould,
  3. E.O. Hulburt,
  4. Hugh Odishaw and
  5. Waldo E. Smith
  1. Paul A. Siple

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM001p0013

Antarctica in the International Geophysical Year: Based on a Symposium on the Antarctic

Antarctica in the International Geophysical Year: Based on a Symposium on the Antarctic

How to Cite

Siple, P. A. (1956) Antarctic Geography, in Antarctica in the International Geophysical Year: Based on a Symposium on the Antarctic (eds A.P. Crary, L.M. Gould, E.O. Hulburt, H. Odishaw and W. E. Smith), American Geophysical Union, Washington D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM001p0013

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1956

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900018

Online ISBN: 9781118669204



  • Antarctic Continent;
  • Ice pack;
  • Operation DEEPFREEZE;
  • Ross and Weddell Seas;
  • Sailing ships;
  • Wind class icebreakers


The challenging task of unveiling the Antarctic Continent has been greatly aided by the advent of new technologies during the past quarter century. The scientific and material developments which contributed most to the increased capability for polar exploration have been in the fields of transportation, communications, and aerial photo surveying. Advances in sciences and technologies in such fields as atomic energy power and heat, food technology, environmental protection, and shelter improvement have tended to make the concept of protracted occupation of the Continent more tenable for the future. Although currently two-fifths of this five million square-mile continent is yet to be seen for the first time, there is every likelihood that before the IGY draws to a close most of the major geographic discoveries will have been made. Concepts of the Antarctic Continent have gradually improved.

The Continent appears to be a ‘siamese-like’ juncture of two large land masses. The portion lying mostly in the western hemisphere, conveniently designated West Antarctica, is only about half as large as East Antarctica. The latter is believed to be a massive Precambrian shield superimposed by a great dome of snow and ice, and toward its center reaching in excess of 13,000 feet elevation. The smaller West Antarctica is more folded in character and the ice dome near its center is probably less than 10,000 feet high. Where these land masses come in close contact, a high-faulted mountain forms a backbone to the whole continental mass. Between the continental glacial domes and these high mountains, natural troughs tend to channel katabatic surface winds off the Continent.

During the forthcoming IGY, glacial and seismic programs will add greatly to our knowledge concerning the thickness of the ice cap and the surface beneath. Not only will we have a more reliable concept of the Continent but it is likely that the Antarctic will never again be unpopulated even though the geopolitical rivalry for national territorial claims will no doubt continue for many years to come.