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Casey Station, Antarctica

Client:

Geoscience Australia

Duration:

7 weeks

Budget:

$50,000

Project Date:

Summer 2014/15

Background

Antarctic Survey – the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), Geoscience Australia (GA) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) teamed up with iXblue to conduct an extensive multi-beam survey of the approaches to Casey Station.

Location: 66° 16′ 55″ S, 110° 31′ 39″ E (−66.2818° S, 110.5276° E)

Casey is located in the Windmill Islands, Vincennes Bay, just outside the Antarctic Circle.

 

Requirement

This multi-agency survey required the collection of multiple, complimentary data sets. 

  • CHARTING AND NAUTICAL SAFETY:  a full sea-floor coverage multibeam bathymetric survey was undertaken in the approaches to Casey station, with particular emphasis on the seaways transited by the icebreaker Aurora Australis.
  • GEOLOGICAL UNDERSTANDING: The multi-beam bathymetry survey data and back-scatter information was required to further geological understanding of the area by AAD and GA scientists.
  • HABITAT AND ENVIRONMENT: The multi-beam survey data, back-scatter information, water column data, seabed samples and underwater videography was used by Australian scientists to build up a picture of the benthic habitat in Antarctic waters and assist in monitoring the impact of human interaction with this unique environment.

 

Challenges

The Antarctic continent is one of the most inaccessible places on the surface of the planet. It’s isolation and latitude meant that survey opportunities are rare and difficult. A small window of opportunity enabled this survey to be undertaken as the ice in Vincennes Bay began to recede in the early the summer months of 2014.

Logistical and operational challenges included:

  • Extreme cold
  • Icebergs and ice flows
  • Freshwater snowmelt and runoff
  • No resupply opportunities

 

Solution

The AAD supplied vessel Howard Burton, was outfitted with a dual head Kongsberg 3002 multi-beam system, supplied by GA. Some of the project team and the vessel journeyed to Casey Station onboard the Aurora Australis, and the rest of the team arrived by aircraft.

When weather allowed we conducted multi-beam and oceanographic survey operations.  We used the tidal infrastructure at Casey Station to generate charting information of unprecedented detail and accuracy in the area. The data will be used by navigators, scientists and environmentalists for years to come.

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