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Komsomolskiy Peak

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Photo M. Woolridge

Komsomolskiy Peak was discovered by a Soviet air crew in 1958 on a flight from the Pole of Inaccessibility to Mirny station. It was photographed by ANARE in 1960 and the first known ground visit was in 1973 when surveyor John Manning and geologist Dick England flew to the summit in Hughes 500 helicopters.

In November 2002, seismologist Dr Anya Reading visited the mountain in order to set up a seismic recording station, take rock samples and make a preliminary selection of a site for a permanent Global Positioning System (GPS) site. The scientific expedition originated from Davis station and the field party (Anya, AAD Field Training Officer Mark Woolridge and ?the third person?) flew to the peak in a twin otter fixed-wing aircraft.

The map to the right shows the location of seismic recording stations installed by Dr Reading in the 2001/02 field season (Davis and Beaver Lake) and in November 2003 (Komsomolskiy Peak). The locations of GPS sites installed by RSES as part of a long-term deformation monitoring program are also shown.

Click on the map to see a full-size image.

The photos below were taken by Dr Anya Reading (RSES) and Mike Woolridge (AAD Field Training Officer). Click on the photos to see the full-sized image.

Seismic recording station installed on Komsomolskiy Peak in November 2002. The blue box is just visible in the centre of the right-hand image. Photos are taken looking roughly westwards. Photos by Mike Woolridge (left) and Anya Reading (right).

Climbing to the summit. Photos are taken looking roughly northeast. Photos by Mike Woolridge.

Anya Reading standing on the summit. Photo by Mike Woolridge.

Taking rock samples for cosmogenic exposure dating. Photo by Mike Woolridge.

Aerial photo of Komsomolskiy Peak taken in 1973 (source: Natmap surveying report, 1973). Photo is taken looking roughly SW.

Science Objectives


The primary aim of the seismic experiment is to determine the seismic structure of the deep crust and upper mantle and infer the structure and hence the tectonic evolution of this central component of Gondwanaland. The present-day thermal structure, hot regions and cold continental keels can also be inferred in this way.

This research is being conducted at RSES by Anya Reading.

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Geodetic estimation of Glacial Isostatic Adjustment

A network of four permanent Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers have been installed in the Prince Charles Mountains to measure the present-day rate of uplift of the Earth's surface as a result of the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet in the past 10,000 years.

The rate of uplift at these sites will provide valuable information on the amount and timing of the glacial melting. Such information is critical for constraining ice models for the Antarctic continent.

This research is being conducted at RSES by Paul Tregoning.

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Cosmogenic Exposure Dating

Cosmogenic exposure dating is a relatively new technique allowing determination of the length of time that rocks have been exposed at the surface of the Earth directly from the rocks themselves. The technique utilises nuclear physics to detect and count the extremely low concentration of in situ-produced cosmogenic nuclides that are formed in certain minerals as a result of nuclear interactions between atoms in these minerals and cosmic rays.

The Earth is continually being bombarded by galactic cosmic radiation, which consists of high-energy protons and alpha particles emanating from supernova explosions within our galaxy. These cosmic rays interact with nuclei in the amosphere to produce a cascade of secondary particles which in turn penetrate metres into rocks on the Earth's surface, interact with target nuclei within the rocks and produce long-lived terrestrial cosmogenic nuclides (TCN).

The buildup of cosmogenic isotopes through time provides a means of measuring exposure ages for rock surfaces such as glacial pavements and lava flows. The TCN technique provides geomorphologists with a powerful tool for dating the emplacement of glacial landforms related to the advance and retreat of glaciers in response to climate change. Komsomolskiy Peak has the potential to act as a 'dipstick' of ice thickness because glacially transported material (moraine) is often deposited at different heights, marking different surface elevation of glaciers and the ice sheet. By dating individual boulders on moraine surfaces at different elevations it is possible to establish the rate of ice surface lowering since the last maximum glacial extent.

This research is being conducted at RSES by Derek Fabel.

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Contact Information:

Dr Paul Tregoning

Research School of Earth Sciences,
Australian National University
Canberra, ACT 0200, AUSTRALIA

tel: +61-2-6125-5510
fax: +61-2-6125-5443