Within the 1997–98 New Zealand Antarctic Research Program studies of dry frozen permafrost were carried out by Doug Sheppard, New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, Iain Campbell, Land and Soil Consultancy, and William Mahaney, Atkinson College, Toronto. The till deposits studied are part of a high altitude sequence (around 1800 m elevation) which are believed to be old tills, possibly Miocene aged, deposited from a previous expansion of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The main purpose of the investigation was to study the geochemistry of salt horizons within the permafrost and to obtain samples for Be-10 dating.
Recovery of two years of soil temperature data (Iain Campbell and Graeme Claridge) from a datalogger in a dry frozen soil has allowed the position of the permafrost table to be accurately determined. During 1998–99 summer installation of three soil temperature and moisture monitoring sites in the coastal McMurdo Sound–Dry Valley region is planned with the assistance of the USDA (John Kimble and Ron Paetzold). These sites will contribute to a more extensive Antarctic permafrost monitoring network.
Results have been completed from a study headed by Warren Dickinson, Victoria University of Wellington, who investigated a till deposit from the controversial-aged Sirius Formation. Samples from a 3.5-m-deep hole revealed authigenic quartz, zeolite and calcite in the pore network suggesting that there must have been appreciable quantities of water present some time previously.
During the 1998–99 summer season, Paul Augustinus, University of Auckland, will undertake subsurface imaging of raised beaches on the Southern Victoria Land and Ross Island Coasts. The project involves ground penetrating radar and resistivity surveys of the beaches with the primary objective of mapping permafrost and buried ice. Other personnel involved are Ed Butler (Antarctic Unit, Victoria University of Wellington) and Scott Nichol (Geography Department, University of Auckland).
The Eighth International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Science will be held in Wellington, New Zealand, 5–9 July 1999. With a growing interest in permafrost geochemistry in New Zealand, the organizers are hopeful that there might be sufficient interest to hold a permafrost session. If interested, contact Warren Dickinson (Warren.Dickinsen@vuw.ac.nz).
Iain Campbell (firstname.lastname@example.org) Paul Augustinus (email@example.com)