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Norwegian-American Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica


US Traverses 64-68

Over the period of 1964 to 1968, the U.S. conducted three separate traverses in Dronning Maud Land, QMLT I, II and III.

(Text by Atsuhiro Muto)

These traverses were sponsored by the Office of Antarctic Programs, National Science Foundation.

Dronning Maud Land Traverse I, 1964-65QMLT III Field Work

QMLT I left South Pole on December 4, 1964 and arrived at the Pole of Inaccessibility (82.11S, 55.03E) on January 27, 1965. The distance covered was 800 nautical miles (1482 km). Geophysical and glaciological studies were carried out along the traverse. Geophysical measurements consisted of gravity, magnetics, ice thickness from seismic measurements, and bedrock velocity measurements by seismic refraction. Glaciological measurements include density (0-2 m, 0-40 m); firn temperatures to 40 m; snow pit studies for snow accumulation; sampling of firn oxygen isotopes, fission products and Pb210 measurements; surface hardness (0-50 cm); and surface features. In addition, daily meteorological observations were made.

Dronning Maud Land Traverse II, 1965-66QMLT III Field Work

QMLT II included 8 scientists and 3 traverse engineers, representing the Free University of Brussels, Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin and the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, and an exchange scientist from the Norwegian Polar Institute. They were flown in to the Pole of Inaccessibility on November 22, 1965 from South Pole.

Three weeks were spent at the Pole of Inaccessibility, primarily upgrading Sno-Cats to accommodate the need of some scientific programs and altering sleds to keep the weight of the traverse to minimum. The traverse left the Pole of Inaccessibility on December 15, 1965, with three Sno-Cats, three one-ton sleds, three two-ton Maudheim sleds, one Rolli-trailer and the four-wheel assembly. The total load was about 40,000 pounds (18 metric tons), including about 12,000 pounds of fuel, 2,000 pounds of food and 2,000 pounds of explosives.

On January 4, the traverse unexpectedly encountered a heavily crevassed zone at 82.75S, 15.03E and a day was spent retrieving one of the Sno-Cats.

Two scheduled airdrops, on Dec. 26, 1965 and Jan. 17, 1966 resupplied the traverse with fuel. An additional airdrop on Jan. 6 supplied spare parts.

The traverse arrived at Plateau Station on January 29, 1966. The distance covered was 725 nautical miles (1343 km).

QMLT III Sledge Train

Dronning Maud Land Traverse III, 1967-68

The third traverse left the Plateau Station on December 5, 1967. The traverse originally consisted of 10 people – 8 scientists and 2 engineers. However, on Dec. 8, 1967, when the traverse was 80 km out of Plateau Station, one of the scientists became ill and had to be returned to the station.

When about 320 km from Plateau station, the party came upon a large Russian sled that had been left behind by a Soviet expedition during a journey from Plateau Station to Novolazarevskaya in March 1967.

There were three resupplies of fuel and spare parts. A special radar beacon, loaded by the Navy helped guide aircraft to the party’s location.

The traverse arrived at 78.70S, 6.87E on January 26, 1968. The distance covered was 840 nautical miles (1556 km). Personnel, equipment, snow samples and one Sno-Cat were airlifted to McMurdo Station on two flights by Navy LC-130 aircraft.

QMLT III Field Camp


Information and photos are collected from the following sources:

Cameron, R.L., E. Picciotto, H. S. Kane, and J. Gliozzi (1968): Glaciology of the Queen Maud Land Traverse, 1964-1965 South Pole-Pole of Relative Inaccessibility, Institute of Polar Studies Report, 23, Ohio State University Research Foundation.

Piccioto, E. (1966): The South Pole-Queen Maud Land Traverse II, Antarctic. J. U.S., 1(4), 129-131.

Picciotto, E, G. Crozaz, and W. De Breuck (1971): Accumulation on the South Pole-Queen Maud Land Traverse, 1964-1968, Antarctic Snow and Ice Studies II, A.P. Crary, Editor, Antarctic Research Series, 16, American Geophysical Union, 257-291.

Peddie, N. W (1968): South Pole-Queen Maud Land Traverse III, Antarctic. J. U.S., 3(4), 93-95.

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