Ice Stories
Exploratorium Home

Order & Progress

A few weeks ago, I posted pictures from a walking tour of the edges of the station. (To read that post, please click here.) Behind the station, construction materials, old scientific equipment, and curious miscellany have been collected over the years in rows out on the ice. With construction on the main station near completion, the major building project on station this season has been a new facility to provide indoor storage for many of the materials currently stored outside.

Over the few months that I have spent here, I have had the opportunity to tour the construction site a few times, and recently I took some pictures of the building in a state of near-completion. Building at the South Pole poses significant and unusual challenges, among them the fact that any structure on this windswept plateau accumulates snow drifts sufficient to bury it in just a few years. The main station is designed on stilts, and the entire thing can be jacked up as the snow accumulates over time. Other facilities on station have to be dug out each season by bulldozers. The Dome, which was the previous South Pole Station, is slowly being buried. Its shape was designed to provide a strong shelter capable of withstanding the steady accumulation, but not indefinitely. The facilities surrounding the dome have been housed under arch structures, which are similarly designed to provide strong shelters for the buildings underneath.

The new materials and storage facility is replacing some of the arch structures and previous facilities that surrounded the old Dome. In the picture below you can see the power plant on the left, the heavy machine shop on the right, and in the center is the arch where construction has been taking place this year.

spt_behind_the_station.JPGThe view from behind the station.
Inside the arches.

Even for me, walking around inside these worksites feels strange – just last year, there were still buildings under these arches that I visited, including the last South Pole bar. In between the new building and the storage arch that sits behind it, you can see the Dome – almost thoroughly eclipsed by the construction activities. In the last picture below, the original welcome sign to the South Pole Station rests on the ice behind segments of arch meant for the new facility.

The end of an era.

Everything built here is constantly changed, adapted, and upgraded to cope with the unchanging harshness of the environment at the South Pole.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.