Locating an ice-covered Antarctic landfill using ground magnetometry

Benjamin L. Freidman, Danielle Camenzuli, Mark Lackie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


At former Antarctic research stations, legacy waste often remains in situ and concealed by ice. Consequently, the location, characteristics and potential environmental impact associated with legacy waste remains poorly documented. This study applies ground magnetometry to map the spatial extent of the landfill at the abandoned Wilkes Station. Magnetic anomalies indicate that the landfill extends north-west to south-east and is close to, and perhaps prograding into, the ocean. The landfill is characterized by large magnetic variations of > 1500 nT with asymmetrical magnetic anomalies which suggest variable orientations of material and random dumping. Magnetic susceptibilities > 0.02SI units beyond the landfill area reveal elevated magnetic properties of the basement geology. However, a contrast in anomaly shape reliably distinguishes large anomalies generated by landfill material. Surface and subsurface melt streams (observed at the shoreline) flowing from the survey area suggest elevated potential for metal contamination of the nearshore and marine environment. The survey demonstrates a cost-effective and non-invasive method for gathering information to guide the clean up of landfills beneath ice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
JournalAntarctic Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Wilkes
  • magnetic anomaly
  • proton magnetometer
  • steel drums
  • susceptibility


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