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Securing safe sea routes in the Antarctic
File Date 2021-05-18 Read 417

- Second hydrographic survey completed near the King Sejong Station and an up-to-date nautical chart to be published -


The Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Agency (KHOA) of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries successfully completed a second hydrographic survey at the Maxwell Bay, King George Island, Antarctica this year.


The King Sejong Station, where the hydrographic survey was conducted, is the first Antarctic station of the Republic of Korea and various research activities have been carried out since its establishment in 1988. King George Island, where the Station is located, has recently been in the spotlight as a tourist destination thus has seen a rapid increase in maritime traffic, but as mariners have had to rely on outdated nautical charts dated between 1983 and 2006, there have been many difficulties in safe navigation and smooth research.


In response to such need, a first comprehensive hydrographic survey was conducted from 2019 to August 2020 to research the bathymetry, coastline and others near the King Sejong Station. Consecutively, KHOA carried out a second high-resolution survey in January this year for 15 days onboard RV Araon.


The second survey found that the depths ranged from 0.46m to 400m and the seafloor mostly consisted of mudflats containing gravel. In addition, we discovered traces of glacier caused by massive floating ice trapped on the seafloor, as well as waterways and a fjord created by the melting and erosion of glaciers.


On this survey a new undersea feature at 400m in height was also found 274km north-northwest from the King Sejong Station and a naming proposal in Korean will be submitted for international recognition. Since the first international recognition of Anyongbok Seamount and Ulleung Plateau and eight others in 2007, we have listed so far a total of 61 undersea features in Korean around the world.


KHOA is currently producing a nautical chart with a scale of 1:10,000 using the acquired bathymetric data. As soon as it is finished, it will be released in May through our Polar Navigational Safety Service at https://khoa.go.kr/polar to support the safety of vessels navigating in the Antarctic.


“We hope to support research activities and navigational safety in the Antarctic through the up-to-date nautical chart,” said Dr Lae Hyung Hong, Director General of KHOA. “KHOA plans to conduct a third hydrographic survey at the end of the year to supplement the data from the first and second surveys with more accuracy.”

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