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Find Your Science at GSA
18 July 2012
GSA Release No. 12-55
Kea Giles
Managing Editor,
GSA Communications
Special Paper 488
traverse team
Members of the traverse team included Claude Lorius, Alfred Stuart, and Thomas Baldwin (front row) and Frans Van der Hoeven, Louis Roberts, John Weihaupt, William Smith, and Arnold Heine (back row).

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New GSA Special Paper

Not so Impossible Journey

Boulder, CO, USA – The Geological Society of America announces a new volume in its Special Paper series. Follow in the footsteps of the 1959–1960 Victoria Land Traverse, a four month, 2,400-km journey into the then-unexplored hinterland of East Antarctica. This scientific, historical, and adventurous account reconstructs the epic journey using the traverse team’s scientific field notes and personal journals.

A critical link in the International Geophysical Year/U.S. Antarctic Research Program, the traverse team conducted seismic, gravity, magnetic, geological, glaciological, and atmospheric surveys over the continental ice sheet.

The authors/team members discovered the Wilkes Subglacial Basin, the Wilkes Land Gravity Anomaly, the Outback Nunataks, the Usarp Mountain Range, and the upper reaches of the Rennick Glacier. In so doing, the traverse encountered heavy crevassing on the Skelton Glacier, where SnoCats frequently broke through snow bridges, threatening the end of the traverse.

On the high plateau, fuel shortages and frequent equipment failures also threatened to terminate the journey. The latter portions of the traverse were marked by near catastrophes in the vicinity of the Mertz and Ninnis Glaciers, and on the glaciers of the Transantarctic Mountains, where unknown and initially undetected substantial crevasse fields were encountered.

However, in their introduction to this GSA Special Paper, author John G. Weihaupt, professor emeritus at the University of Colorado at Denver, and colleagues write, “No human endeavor is more fascinating than exploration, whether of Earth’s oceans, its highest mountains, or the polar high plateau. There is a need, primeval as it surely is, to go where no one’s gone before -- to be the very first.” And they were.

This Special Paper is on sale now in The Geological Society of America's online store. Copies may also be purchased through the GSA Sales and Service Department,

Book editors of earth science journals/publications may request a review copy by contacting April Leo, .

Impossible Journey: The Story of the Victoria Land Traverse 1959–1960, Antarctica
By John G. Weihaupt, Alfred W. Stuart, Frans G. Van der Hoeven, Claude Lorius, and William M. Smith
Geological Society of America Special Paper 488
SPE488, 136 p., $45.00; Member price $30.00
ISBN 978-0-8137-2488-1