I have been having trouble lately getting reliable information on exactly what the Italian Antarctic programme involved this season. Emails to Italy don't get answered and their web sites are well out of date.

Today (Friday 26th November 1999), as I was already visiting the Antarctic Centre to arrange some special mail at the American Deep Freeze Base Post Office, I took the chance to visit the Italian Antarctic Project offices and found there the chief Italian Representative Luciano Blasi.  Luciano was very helpfull with information and my shorthand was quickly found wanting!

He told me that the Italian programme was well underway with the Italians C-130 Hercules already working out of the main Italian Base at Terra Nova Bay.

The view at right shows the Italian C-130 Hercules taxing on the runway at Terra Nova Bay.

TheItalian Hercules is not ski-equipped so it will operate in the antarctic from November until January while ice conditions permit.

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I met a group of three Italians who were being scheduled to fly Christchurch to McMurdo to Terra Nova Bay early next week as part of the 3 nation transport pool. Most Italian scientists and base workers fly down this way however the bulk supplies will wait for the "Italica" which is due to arrive in Lyttleton on 31st of December 1999. The "Italica" will arrive off Cape Hallett in Mid January where it will rendevous with the "Polar Duke" before delivering its supplies to the main base at Terra Nova Bay.

Dome C

Drilling has commenced last week (Mid November) with an advanced party present.

There is a lot of work still to be done in developing the "Dome-C" station. this station is a joint French-Italian effort and consists of a station built on the main antarctic plateau (Hence the name "Dome-C") Accomodation at the station currently consists of 4 so called "Sleeping tents" which each accomodate 6 persons, the drilling tent, a fuel supply and a few small buildings. Luciano showed me the Antarctic projects extensive CD collection of Antarctic photos and has kindly emailed me several that I selected.  These are shown below with descriptions.

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This photo at left shows the traverse in 1998 when an Italian party set up the "Dome C" camp.  They dragged several containers on sledges from Terra Nova Bay Base across the ice for several hundred kilometers to set up the new base on the Ice cap at "Dome C"

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This view at left shows several of the buildings at "Dome-C" at the end of the 1998-1999 season. The large white building at rear left is the main drilling building. The dark structure in front of it is the main fuel supply.

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This photo shows the inside of the "Dome-C"drilling building with the main drilling apparatus in the middle.

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These four buildings are the so called "Sleeping tents" at "Dome-C". In reality they are not tents but they are also not really permanent buildings either.

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This view shows the inside of one of the "Sleeping Tents" which provide the accomodation at "Dome-C" station. Each "Tent" has space for 6 people and as can be seen the facilities are not much more than basic.

The "Dome-C" drilling is important scientific work as they are drilling ice cores right through the Antarctic ice sheet. the resulting ice cores enable scientists to study climatic conditions over the 10,000, 20,000 years during which the Ice sheet was laid down much like studying growth rings in trees can reveal weather patterns etc.

The view at right shows   two Italian "Twin Otter" aircaft being refueled at "Dome-C" base on the Antarctic plateau.

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The Italians are also involved in the 6 nation Cape Roberts drilling project on the Ross ice shelf which is in its third and final year of drilling. this project is doing similar work with sedimentary cores taken from the Ocean bed on the Ross Sea.

If you want to see further Italian Antarctic information take a look at our page about the main Italian supply vessel "Italica"

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