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Drilling into the past - The Kohnen Station in the Antarctic

© Alfred Wegener Institut

Dronning Maud Land/Antarctica 
Position: 75°00'S, 00°04'E, 2892 meters above sea level

Within the framework of the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) AWI established in 2001 the Kohnen station as a logistic base for ice drilling activities during the polar summer. For this particular drilling project in Dronning Maud Land a comprehensive  Environmental Evaluation was carried out. The "Kohnen base" is named after Heinz Kohnen (1938 - 1997), who was the head of AWI's logistics department.

The base consists of 11 standard 20-feet containers sitting on a 32-meter long and 8-meter wide platform. Steel pillars, which can be jacked up when the height above snow surface decreases, hold the platform. Inside the containers, a radio room, a mess room (double unit), kitchen, sanitary facilities, two sleeping rooms, snowmelter, store, workshop and apower plant are found. Food store containers on sledges and additional sleeping modules can be parked beside the platform. The fuel depot consists of specially certificated tank containers mounted on sledges. A film, which can be viewed with RealPlayer, was made showing the steps involved in the construction of the Kohnen Base.

The Kohnen base can accomodate up to 20 people. Communication facilities consitst of Inmarsat B (data transmission line - 64 kbit/s, phone and fax lines - 9 kbit/s each), Inmarsat C and M as well as HF. The power plant production is of 100kW with an average fuel consumption of 250 liters/day.

The drilling, scheduled for the season 2001/2002, will take place in a 66 m long, 6 m deep and 4.8 m wide trench. The trench has been excavated into the snow and is covered with a wooden roof.

The logistics for Kohnen station is based mainly on land-transport facilities. Towing vehicles of the type Pistenbully are used. Each Pistenbully tows up to 20 tons distributed on up to three sledges. Altogether the vehicle fleet consists normally of about 6 towing vehicles, 12 sledges carrying goods and containers, 5 sledges with tank containers and accommodation facilities. Two traverses with up to 6 sledge trains have been performed each field season, which normally lasts from December until mid February.

Kohnen base is in the flight range of permanently occupied stations such as Halley, Neumayer and SANAE IV. The distance between Neumayer station and Kohnen base is about 757 kilometers. Depending on weather conditions, a traverse using GPS navigation takes 9-14 days. Small ski-equipped aircraft like Dornier 228, Twin Otter or Basler 67 (DC 3) can land adjacent to Kohnen base to transport personnel and ice-core between Neumayer and Kohnen base.

Current weather data from an automatic weather stations at Kohnen is available via the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research in Utrecht

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