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Impacts of geoscience research on the physical environment of the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica.

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Kiernan, K and McConnell, A (2001) Impacts of geoscience research on the physical environment of the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 48 (5). pp. 767-776. ISSN 0812-0099

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Abstract

Antarctic polar deserts can be of considerable scientific interest, but can also exhibit great environmental sensitivity. A variety of factors, including Australia’s legal obligations under the Madrid Protocol, public expectations, certain research opportunities and ethical considerations, demand a very high standard of environmental protection. A survey outside the Davis Station limits in the Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica, identified 66 sites at which past human activities had left long-term impacts on the physical environment. Nearly half of all observed impacts were the result of geoscientific research that had left old pit and trench sites, vehicular tracks, partly excavated palaeontological material, rock sampling and drilling sites, localised slope instability caused by disturbance, and discarded equipment and markers. Comparisons between rehabilitated sites and others where little, if any, rehabilitation appears to have been attempted suggest natural processes alone are generally insufficient to heal the damage, but that effective rehabilitation is often possible if undertaken immediately after the initial disturbance.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Antarctica;environmental impact;human impact;permafrost;polar deserts;Vestfold Hills
Journal or Publication Title: Australian Journal of Earth Sciences
Page Range: pp. 767-776
ISSN: 0812-0099
Additional Information: The definitive published version is available online at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2010 02:14
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:12
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/10095
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