Turkish scientists are on Horseshoe Island, the home of the ‘White Continent’

Under the auspices of the Presidency, under the responsibility of the Ministry of Industry and Technology, and under the coordination of the Polar Research Institute TÜBİTAK MAM, the scientific delegation, which carried out the 6th national scientific expedition to Antarctica, reached Horseshoe Island, where the Turkish scientific base is located.

After reaching the Antarctic continent, the Turkish scientific team headed south, passing through Livingston Island, where the Bulgarian station is located, then the Bransfield Strait, first passing the Gerlanche Strait , then the Lemarie Channel and Penola Strait.

Large broken icebergs in Penola Strait and Grandidier Channel made it difficult for the vessel to proceed in a straight line. The Betanzos ship, navigating between ice floes and icebergs, slowed down in areas with dense ice floes and passed through these points without any problems with its special crew on the ship monitoring the ice.


From time to time, humpback whales, penguins and seals accompanied the ship on which the scientific delegation was.

“The measurements at the geodynamic points that we will make are scientifically important”

The normal weather conditions and sub-zero temperatures for Antarctica were sometimes difficult for the expedition participants. Continuing to sail with a wind speed of more than 100 km/h, the ship arrived at Dismal Island, where the GNSS station operated by the Directorate General of Mapping is located, on February 10.

In 2020, the first fixed Global Positioning Satellite Systems (GNSS) outside Turkey’s borders were installed on Dismal Island, 73 kilometers from Horseshoe Island.

Captain Engineer İlyas Akpınar of the Department of Geodesy of the General Directorate of Maps, who was part of the 20-person scientific team in charge of GNSS maintenance and repair work and to receive the recorded information, said that they were on Dismal Island as part of the 6th National Antarctic Science Expedition and said, “The science of geodesy, landform location and gravity GNSS satellite-based global positioning systems can be used to solve the navigation problem, detect changes in sea level, as well as detect and monitor tectonic activity, in addition to determining our current location.” used the sentences.

Akpınar said that during the 3rd National Antarctic Scientific Expedition led by Turkey in 2019, geodynamic points were established on Dismal Island and Horseshoe Island on the Antarctic continent, and GNSS observations were made at these points for 4 to 12 hours.

“During the 4th expedition, in 2020, our fixed GNSS station was established on Dismal Island, where we are currently located. There are 3 fixed GNSS stations in this region of Turkey, on the Antarctic continent. one of them is on Dismal Island, the other two are on Horseshoe Island. tectonic changes related to the oceans around the continent.

The Antarctic plate is a tectonic plate that is in constant motion and is constantly changing due to earthquakes caused by collisions. It includes not only the Antarctic continent, but also some of the surrounding oceans. Therefore, the fact that our station is located on Dismal Island, on which we are, is important for the detection of the movement of the Antarctic plate. It will also allow us to contribute to the Earth science literature in Antarctica. We can qualify both the observations made by our fixed GNSS station and the measurements at geodynamic points that we will make in this region today and in the future as scientifically significant.”

Stating that the regional velocity zone can be determined through fixed GNSS stations, and this can be very accurate at the millimeter level, Akpınar said that there are fixed GNSS stations that perform long-term observations in this region.

Akpınar said: “We also have 3 GNSS stations in the Antarctic continent. At the same time, we perform GNSS observations at geodynamic points when we organize scientific expeditions in this region. By using all these measurements, it will be possible to primarily observe the velocity field and then the tectonic activity for this region.” mentioned.

“14 scientific projects will be carried out during the execution of our expedition”

After maintenance, repair and registration of information at the Dismal Island GNSS station, the Turkish scientific delegation continued its journey and reached Horseshoe Island, where the temporary Turkish scientific camp is located.

After the 21-day journey, the expedition’s crew of 20 people and more than 2 tons of logistical equipment arrived at Horseshoe Island, where the Turkish temporary science camp is located, on February 11, and the field work has begun.

After the scientists reached the base, the Turkish flag was hoisted while singing the national anthem. The scientific delegation then toured the region under the leadership of Hasan Hakan Yavaşoğlu, deputy expedition leader in charge of science. The scientific committee has carried out a feasibility study on the regions where it will carry out research.

Hasan Hakan Yavaşoğlu said that they arrived at Horseshoe Island after a long journey of 21 days and said:

“This year we are conducting the 6th National Scientific Expedition to Antarctica. The expedition was to be carried out during the Covid-19 process. Due to this situation, we had a 7-day quarantine in Puerto Williams, Chile. Then, we were transferred to the ship from King George Island, then We reached Dismal Island, then Horseshoe Island, our team is now completing reconnaissance work on land, we will start our scientific work from today. There will be 14 science projects during the execution of our expedition this year. Mainly life sciences, physical sciences and earth sciences. “We are together with our teachers who will work on their subjects . The weather is pretty good on Horseshoe Island right now. We find motivation in everyone to work fully and ready.”

Foreign guest of the scientific expedition

The first leg of the sea voyage, which began on the Betanzos ship after leaving King George Island, was St. Kliment Ohridski station, Turkish scientists were unable to visit this base as part of the Covid-19 measures .

As part of the cooperation between the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute and the Polar Research Institute TUBITAK MAM, St. Oleg Vasiliev, who was the station chief of Kliment Ohridski, joined the team of the 6th National Scientific Expedition in Antarctica by coming to the ship with Turkish scientists by boat from their island.

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