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The Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains (GSM), located in the central East Antarctica, were discovered by the Soviet team of the 3rd Complex Antarctic Expedition in 1958-1959. The GSM has highly dissected Alpine topography reaching maximum elevations of 3000 m. The mechanism driving uplift of the young-shaped GSM in the middle of the old East Antarctic Shield is unknown. With only limited constraints available on the topography, geology, and lithospheric structure, the origin of the GSM has been a matter of considerable speculation. The latest interpretation suggested that the GSM were formed during Permian and Cretaceous (roughly 250-100 Ma ago) due to the combination of rift-flank uplift, root buoyancy and the isostatic response. Later on the Antarctic Ice Sheet covered the range and protected it from erosion. However, this theory cannot explain lack of erosion process during many millions years in between uplifting and beginning of glaciation. The next step of the GSM exploration focuses on the direct observation of ice sheet bed by drilling. In order to penetrate into subglacial bedrock in the GSM region the development activity already has been started in China. It is proposed to use cable-suspended drilling technology and movable drilling shelter that can be transported to the chosen site with crawler-tractor. The first field tests of the drilling equipment are planned to carry out near Antarctic coast in season 2015-2016, and drilling to the bedrock would be finished during next two seasons.

About the Author

Pavel G. Talalay
Polar Research Center, Jilin University
Russian Federation


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