U.S. Geological Survey scientific activities in the exploration of Antarctica: 1946-2006 record of personnel in Antarctica and their postal cachets: U.S. Navy (1946-48, 1954-60), International Geophysical Year (1957-58), and USGS (1960-2006)

Open-File Report 2006-1116
Prepared in cooperation with United States Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation
By: , and 



Antarctica, a vast region encompassing 13.2 million km2 (5.1 million mi2), is considered to be one of the most important scientific laboratories on Earth. During the past 60 years, the USGS, in collaboration and with logistical support from the National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs, has sent 325 USGS scientists to Antarctica to work on a wide range of projects: 169 personnel from the NMD (mostly aerial photography, surveying, and geodesy, primarily used for the modern mapping of Antarctica), 138 personnel from the GD (mostly geophysical and geological studies onshore and offshore), 15 personnel from the WRD (mostly hydrological/glaciological studies in the McMurdo Dry Valleys), 2 personnel from the BRD (microbiological studies in the McMurdo Dry Valleys), and 1 person from the Director's Office (P. Patrick Leahy, Acting Director, 2005–06 austral field season). Three GD scientists and three NMD scientists have carried out field work in Antarctica 9 or more times: John C. Behrendt (15), who started in 1956–57 and published two memoirs (Behrendt, 1998, 2005), Arthur B. Ford (10), who started in 1960–61, and Gary D. Clow (9), who started in 1985–86; Larry D. Hothem (12), who began as a winter-over geodesist at Mawson Station in 1968–69, and Jerry L. Mullins (12), who started in 1982–83 and followed in the legendary footsteps of his NMD predecessor, William R. MacDonald (9), who started in 1960–61 and supervised the acquisition of more than 1,000,000 square miles of aerial photography of Antarctica. This report provides a record as complete as possible, of USGS and non-USGS collaborating personnel in Antarctica from 1946–2006, the geographic locations of their work, and their scientific/engineering disciplines represented. Postal cachets for each year follow the table of personnel and scientific activities in the exploration of Antarctica during those 60 years.

To commemorate special events and projects in Antarctica, it became an international practice to create postal cachets. A cachet is defined as a seal, emblem, or commemorative design printed or stamped on an envelope to mark a philatelic or special event. All stamp collectors are familiar with engraved cachets on envelopes of "First-Day-of-Issue" stamps. For Antarctica, a stamped (inked) impression informs the scientist, historian, stamp collector, and general public about the multidisciplinary science projects staffed by USGS scientists and other specialists during a specific austral summer field season. Because philatelic cachets were created by team members for each USGS field season, in most cases depicting the specific areas and scientific objectives, the cachets have become a convenient documentation of the people, projects, and geographic places for that year. Because the cachets are representative of USGS activities, each year's cachet is included in that year's Open-File Report (1960–61 to 2005–06). Starting with the 1983–84 season, however, two USGS cachets were prepared for the next seven years, one for the winter team at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, until 1992–93, and the other for all other field sites. Multiple cachets were created by USGS divisional programs during the 1962–63, 1963–64, 1970–71, 1972–73, 1975–76, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1983–84, 1984–85, 1986–87, 1995–96, 2003–04, and the 2005–06 years.

This report includes facsimiles of each annual postal cachet (or postal cachets) designed by USGS graphic specialists and provides a record of USGS personnel (and non-USGS collaborating scientists) and their science division affiliation for each austral field season. In addition, cachets used by USGS personnel for U.S. Navy Operation Highjump (1946–47), U.S. Navy Operation Windmill (1947–48), U.S. Navy U.S.S. Atka reconnaissance cruise (1954–55), U.S. Navy Operation Deep Freeze (DF) (I, 1955–56; II, 1956–57; III, 1957–58; IV, 1958–59; and DF 60, 1959–60), and the International Geophysical Year (1957–58) are included, because USGS scientists made use of these cachets when involved in each of the field activities during these austral field seasons.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title U.S. Geological Survey scientific activities in the exploration of Antarctica: 1946-2006 record of personnel in Antarctica and their postal cachets: U.S. Navy (1946-48, 1954-60), International Geophysical Year (1957-58), and USGS (1960-2006)
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2006-1116
DOI 10.3133/ofr20061116
Year Published 2007
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) U.S. Geological Survey
Description ii, 57 p.
Other Geospatial Antarctica