Antarctic Exploration Timeline

By msfyffe
  • Alexander Dalyrmple

    Alexander Dalyrmple
    In 1767, Alexander Dalrymple published An Account of the Discoveries made in the South Pacific Ocean Previous to 1764. In it, he made a strong case for a giant, unknown southern continent. According to Dalrymple, this continent's northern shore lay in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere between 28°S and 40°S latitude. The English government listened. In 1768, Captain James Cook was sent to the South Pacific, first to observe the upcoming transit of Venus, and second, to proceed south in a search for th
  • Captain Cook

    Captain Cook
    In early December, 1772, Cook crossed the convergence and came upon his first iceberg. After searching in vain for Bouvet's cape, Cook bore east and south. On January 17, 1773, at about 40°E longitude, he made the first crossing of the Antarctic Circle in history. Cook sailed with the his crew on the ADVENTURE.
  • Edward Bransfield

    Edward Bransfield
    the Royal Navy sends Edward Bransfield, with Smith as pilot, to search the waters southeast of the newly claimed South Shetlands. As a result, it is claimed that he is the first to see the Antarctic Peninsula.
  • Palmer Discovers Orkney Islands

    Palmer Discovers Orkney Islands
    In December, Nathaniel Palmer discovers the South Orkney Islands along with British sealer George Powell.
  • Fabian Gottlieb

    Fabian Gottlieb
    In January, Russian Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen becomes the first person to see the Antarctic continent (January 27).
  • John Biscoe - Enderby Land

    John Biscoe - Enderby Land
    Englishman John Biscoe, an employee of the British sealing business "Enderby Brothers", discovers Enderby Land, the first sighting of Antarctica from the Indian Ocean zone
  • Charles WIkles

     Charles WIkles
    Charles Wilkes' American expedition finds evidence that Antarctica is a continent.
  • James Clark Ross

    James Clark Ross
    under Sir James Clark Ross in EREBUS and TERROR, search for the South Magnetic Pole has been ordered by the British Royal Navy. He discovers Victoria Land and enters the sea which is known famously now as the Ross Sea. He discovers Ross Island, Mt. Erebus and the Ross Ice Shelf.
  • Captain E Dallman - Bismarck Strait & Neumayer Channel

    Captain E Dallman - Bismarck Strait & Neumayer Channel
    Dallmann discovered the Bismarck Strait and the Neumayer Channel.
  • Belgica Crew Survive a Winter

    Belgica Crew Survive a Winter
    Crew of 'Belgica first to survive an Antarctic winter
  • Robert Scott

    Robert Scott
    Scott's failed 'Discovery' expedition
    Robert F. Scott, Edward Wilson and Ernest Shackleton strike out for the South Pole. Leaving McMurdo Sound heading south across the Ross Ice Shelf, two months later they find themselves at 82 degrees south suffering from snow blindness and scurvy. Forced to return home, they nonetheless cover 3100 miles.
  • Amundsen

    Norwegian Roald Amundsen and four team members reach the South Pole. Amundsen discovered a new route which took only 57 days. Letters are left for Scott, a Norwegian flag planted and then they return to the Bay of Whales.
  • Scott dies returning from failed expedition

    Scott dies returning from failed expedition
    On January 18, Robert F. Scott, Edward Wilson, Edgar Evans and Lawrence Oates reach the South Pole. Unfortunately, Amundsen had already been there and left a flag marking the spot. Terribly discouraged after a tortuous journey, all members perish on the return trip. Scott, Wilson and Bowers die in their tent after using up all fuel and food. The three are not discovered until November.
  • Mawson's Australasian Antarctic Expedition

    Mawson's Australasian Antarctic Expedition
    Douglas Mawson must begin his lone trek across George V Land back to his base at Commonwealth Bay. Mawson's two companions had died and despite the tragedy, he makes it home. A new section of coast is discovered and radio is used for the first time in Antarctica.
  • Shackleton Dies

    Shackleton Dies
    In January, at the age of 48, Ernest Shackleton dies of a heart attack. On board the QUEST at the time, Shackleton is buried at South Georgia.
  • Admiral Richard Byrd flies over South Pole

    Admiral Richard Byrd flies over South Pole
    On November 28, after a ten hour flight from their base at the Bay of Whales, Richard E. Byrd and three others become the first to fly over the South Pole.
  • Australia establishes Mawson Station

    Australia establishes Mawson Station
    The RAAF operated two Auster aircraft during 1953-54, the season in which Australia established its first continental base at Mawson. Mawson Station
  • Antarctic Treaty Signed

    Antarctic Treaty Signed
    1959: In December, the twelve leading nations participating in the IGY sign the "Antarctic Treaty" in Washington, DC. The treaty was framed as an agreement so the continent "shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes". The treaty came into effect in 1961 and guarantees access and scientific research in all territory south of 60° latitude.