Third Indian expedition to Antarctica
|Indian Air Force|
|Armed Forces Medical Services|
Having successfully laid the foundation of scientific research in Antarctica during the First Indian Expedition to Antarctica in 1981 - 1982 and having continued this effort during the Second Indian Expedition to Antarctica in 1982 - 1983, the Department of Ocean Development, Government of India, decided to launch the third expedition during the Antarctic summer of 1983 - 1984. In addition to carrying out scientific work in diversified disciplines, it was decided to set up a permanent station during the summer of 1983 - 1984 at the Queen Maud Land ice-shelf region.
- To carry out a quick survey of the area to ensure that the site selected for the Base Station by the Second Indian Expedition to Antarctica is stable and capable of taking the weight of the proposed structure.
- To erect the building for the Permanent Indian Station and equip it with all essential services like power, water, heating, sewage disposal etc.
- To establish direct communication link between India and the Base Station in Antarctica.
- To test the reliability of the structure and other essential equipment. If these are found satisfactory, to leave a team of 12 to 16 persons behind for wintering in Antarctica.
- Assessment of geographic distribution, composition and biomass of 'krill' and other zooplankton in the coastal and oceanic water in the southern seas.
- Studies on thermocline structures and coastal and oceanic water masses in the southern ocean along a section from Antarctica to Mauritius.
- Distribution of and inter-relationships between various chemical constituents of seawater, such as inorganic micronutrients, dissolved oxygen and components of carbon dioxide systems in relation to physical and biological features.
- Specification of phytoplankton involved in primary biochemical end products of photosynthesis.
- Microbiological studies in sediments and sea water.
- Physical and chemical studies in the fresh water lake systems in relation to carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles.
- Limnological studies of Phytoplankton and benthic species and the biochemistry of their photosynthesis in relation to light and temperature.
- Quantitative studies, speciation and specimen collection of Zooplankton.
- Microbiological studies in continuation of the earlier work
- Sampling for analysis of various radioisotopes for studies on air mass movements and trace elements at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and microbiological work at Marathwada University.
- Sampling of soil for radioactive analysis at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre to assess levels of remnants of nuclear explosions in Antarctica.
- Chemical analysis of cations, cationic exchange capacity, pH and organic carbon contents.
- Chemical studies of ice and snow samples.
- Analysis of moss and lichen chemistry.
- Collection of samples for petrological, geochronological, geochemical, palaeontological, sedimentological and palaeomagnetic studies.
- Representative meteorite sample collection.
- Geomorphological, glaciological and structural studies.
- Coastal shelf area studies with special reference to submarine geology.
- Seismic refraction experiments for estimating ice thickness at various sites.
- Magnetic profiles extending to several kilometres using two proton precision magnetometres.
- Investigations of density, strength and deformation profiles of snow cover for foundation and superstructure designing.
- Wind movement and direction based on snow deposition studies.
- Evaluation and testing of engineering equipment and products.
- Different kinds of antennae to be tried for communication stability in the Antarctic environment, and operation of an Amateur radio.
- Measurement of surface pressure, temperature, humidity and wind velocity in the ocean and over Antarctica.
- Radiosonde and omegasonde measurements of upper air pressure, temperature and humidity in the ocean and over Antarctica.
- Measurement of Surface ozone, snow catch and radiation regime of Antarctica.
Selection of Participants
The eighty one member team of the Third Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica was selected from among the volunteers who had offered their services for the expedition by interview at the office of Department of Ocean Development in New Delhi and medical examination at Defence Clinic, New Delhi. For the first time in the history of India, two female scientists Dr. Sudipta Sengupta, a geologist from Jadavpur University, Calcutta and Dr. Aditi Pant, a marine biologist from National Institute of Oceanography, Goa were selected for the expedition.
All members were trained for a ten days Glacier Training at High Altitude Warfare School at Sonmarg after their selection.
M S Finnpolaris from Finn Lines of Finland, a 159.22 metre ice-strengthened Ice Class 1 A Super ship, was chartered for the expedition. The ship was specially built for navigation in the polar region and could hit and smash sea ice of up to 0.75 metre thickness. The Expedition had carried four snow vehicles with the capacity of 10 tonnes each, snow scooters, 200 tonnes of building materials. 2,000 barrels of fuel, snow-cutting vehicles, generators, boilers, large living containers and communication equipments in addition to the scientific equipments and huge quantities of food and beverages. It was also carrying two Pratap helicopters of Indian Air Force and two Chetak helicopters of Indian Navy which were to be used for transportation of personnel and materials in Antarctica.
The expedition sailed from Mormugao, Goa on December 3, 1983 at 1830 hours. The participants were given a heroic send off by military bands. After moving out from the port of Goa, the ship took a south-west course and crossed the equator on December 6, 1983. It reached Mauritius on December 10, 1983 and stayed there for four days. Soon after crossing the 40°S latitude, the atmospheric temperature dropped from 22°C to 8°C in about 24 hour period. The first iceberg was sighted on December 23, 1983 at 57°25'S and 28°25'E where the atmospheric temperature was 3°C. On December 25, 1983, the ship started sailing through pack ice. At about 130 km away from the coast the ship had to be stopped on account of multi-year thick sheet ice. One naval helicopter was engaged to find out the way and a polynya for safe anchorage of the ship.The vessel could not reach the permanent shelf as there was still thick platforms of sea ice for about half a kilometre in front of the permanent ice shelf. Therefore on December 27, 1983 by 0130 hours, the ship was moored on to the sea ice and the team landed in Antarctica.
Construction of Dakshin Gangotri Base Camp
A suitable site () which was about 10 kilometres away from the previous years base camp and about 15 kilometres from the ship was selected for the construction of the permanent station. Tents for the accommodation were erected by the first advance party. The air force helicopter was put into operation on December 27, 1983 itself for transporting the building and other essentials to the base camp.
The base station consisted of 2-two storeyed blocks. Block-A contained a lounge, kitchen, hospital, laboratory and a snow melting plant in the ground floor and the living facilities, communication facilities and general stores in the first floor. The Block-B housed three generators, the electrical work shop and carpentry in the ground floor and some of the workshops along with general stores in the first floor. The two blocks were connected by a link block. The buildings, entirely made of wood, asbestos and thermocol, were centrally heated.
Two satellite communication terminals of INMARSAT system had been installed at the Dakshin Gangotri Base Camp which provided telephone and telex link on global basis. The amateur radio operation was established to contact with the amateur radio operators in Indian mainland. A post office was also setup at Dakshin Gangotri in 1983 during this Expedition.
The Expedition was caught in four major blizzards during its stay in Antarctic summer. The first one started on January 6, 1984 and lasted for two days which affected the Expedition adversely in that all the excavations made for laying the foundation of the building were filled up with the drifting snow. The wind velocity rose to 78 km per hour. The second blizzard hit the Expedition from January 17, 1984 to January 18, 1984 with maximum wind velocity during this storm of 80 km per hour. Another blizzard which occurred lasted from February 9, 1984 to February 11, 1984 with the maximum wind velocity of 90 km per hour. The severest of the blizzards was towards the end of February when all the construction works were over. The wind speed rose up to 133 km per hour.
The camp at the Schirmacher mountains, mainly run by the geologists functioned for 24 days of January and February period. A detailed map of about 35 square kilometre area of the Schirmacher Hills was prepared on 1:25,000 scale. The dominant rock types of the area were studied and samples were collected for mineralogical studies.
Return from Antarctica
The first Antarctic wintering by the Indian team of twelve members commenced from March 1, 1984 when M S Finnpolans sailed from Antarctica with the remaining members of the third expedition. The summer team reached Goa on March 29, 1984 and the wintering team returned on March 25, 1985.
- India constructed its First permanent research station in Antarctica in the form of Dakshin Gangotri station.
- India constructed its permanent research station in Antarctica in a world record time of 8 weeks.
- Dr. Sudipta Sengupta and Dr. Aditi Pant were the first Indian female to participate in expedition to Antarctica.
- Indians spent their first winter in Antarctica from 1984 to 1985.
- Sengupta, Sudipta. Antarctica. Ananda Publisher, 1989, ISBN 81-7066-091-2
- Official website of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute,Dr K. J. Mathew: The Polar Experience, CMFRI Newsletter, January–March 1984
- Department of Ocean Development, Government of India. SCIENTIFIC REPORT OF FIRST INDIAN EXPEDITION TO ANTARCTICA, TECHNICAL PUBLICATION NO. 3., Prepared By CENTRE FOR EARTH SCIENCE STUDIES, TRIVANDRUM, 1986
- Official website of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute,Dr K. J. Mathew: The Third Indian Antarctic Research Expedition and the role played by CMFRI , The Marine Fisheries Information Service: Technical and Extension Series, May 1984
- Official website of Stamps of India,Indian Post Offices in Antarctica