Fossil Bluff

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Fossil Bluff Station
The Hut at Fossil Bluff, Antarctica
The Hut at Fossil Bluff, Antarctica
Location of Fossil Bluff in Antarctica
Location of Fossil Bluff in Antarctica
Fossil Bluff Station
Location of Fossil Bluff in Antarctica
Coordinates: 71°18′41″S 68°19′25″W / 71.311515°S 68.323540°W / -71.311515; -68.323540Coordinates: 71°18′41″S 68°19′25″W / 71.311515°S 68.323540°W / -71.311515; -68.323540
Country United Kingdom
Location in AntarcticaGeorge VI Sound
Alexander Island
Administered byBritish Antarctic Survey
Established20 February 1961 (1961-02-20)
92 m (302 ft)
 • Total
  • Up to 6
Time zoneUTC-3 (ART)
Fossil Bluff
Airport typePrivate
LocationFossil Bluff
George VI Sound
Elevation AMSL32 ft / 10 m
Coordinates71°19′46″S 68°16′01″W / 71.329333°S 68.267000°W / -71.329333; -68.267000
Fossil Bluff is located in Antarctica
Fossil Bluff
Fossil Bluff
Location of airfield in Antarctica
Direction Length Surface
ft m
17/35 3,960 1,207 Snow

Fossil Bluff is a seasonal British aircraft refuelling station located on the east coast of Alexander Island in Antarctica. In operation since 1961, its facilities provide fuel, storage, and ancillary support for British exploration and operations during the summer season, October through March. The site is adjacent to a natural, north-south travelling route along the George VI Ice Shelf.

Fossil Bluff is a collection of buildings and facilities, at the centre of which lies Fossil Bluff Station.


Fossil Bluff hut sits at the foot of a scree-covered ridge overlooking George VI Sound which separates mountainous Alexander Island from Palmer Land. George VI Ice Shelf occupies the sound and provides a north-south route for travelling parties except in high summer when the ice shelf's surface is flooded with meltwater. To the west and north-west lie Planet Heights, an extensive range of mountains rising to over 1,500 metres (4,900 ft). Immediately to the west lies Giza Peak and the snow-free Promenade Screes. The Screes are criss-crossed with pathways, and are frequently the destination of short walks from the nearby field station.[2]


Fossil Bluff is a forward-operating facility for refuelling aircraft and is operated by Rothera station during the Antarctic summer season between October and March. There is a 1,200-metre (3,900 ft) unprepared skiway marked by drums 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) south of the station.

De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft ferry drums of fuel from Rothera Research Station to Fossil Bluff each summer to maintain the size of the fuel depot. The station is 90 minutes flying time from Rothera Research Station. It is used extensively as a jumping-off point for further operations into Antarctica. The next 'traditional' stop for the Twin Otters is Sky Blu, 85 minutes away.

Fossil Bluff houses four people in comfort but is normally operated by two to three.

The base has been in use intermittently since 20 February 1961. Occupied during the winters of 1961, 1962, and 1969–75, it has been used every summer since 1975. The first people to overwinter in 1961 were Cliff Pearce and John Smith (meteorologists) and Brian Taylor (geologist) who carried out a thorough and systematic investigation of the local geology.[3][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Fossil Bluff Skiway". Airport Nav Finder. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  2. ^ "Promenade Screes". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved July 27, 2018.
  3. ^ Pearce, Cliff (2004). The Silent Sound: The Story of Two Years in Antarctica and the First Winter Occupation of Alexander Island. Book Guild Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85776-845-9.
  4. ^ Thompson, M. R. A. (2005). "A Book Review of The Silent Sound". Antarctic Science. 17: 569–570. doi:10.1017/S0954102005213007.

External links[edit]

The buildings at Fossil Bluff. From the left, the garage, 'Tesco's' which is a food store, an old towable caboose (now housing a full range of BAS camping equipment for use in the event of a fire), the generator shed with melt tank above (for water). The hut and then the meteo station. Giza Peak lies in the background.