Antarctic Drilling Program


Date of this Version



Scientific Drilling, No. 3, September 2006, 43-45.


Copyright 2006, International Ocean Discovery Program. Used by permission.


ANDRILL (ANtarctic geological DRILLing) is a new international, multi-disciplinary drilling program that targets geological records that lie hidden beneath the icy blanket of Antarctica. The primary objective is to investigate Antarctica’s role in global environmental change over the past sixty-five million years, at various scales of age resolution, and thereby enhance our understanding of Antarctica’s potential response to future global changes. Efforts to understand the influence of Antarctica on global climate change require a fundamental knowledge of how the Antarctic cryosphere (ice sheets, ice shelves, and sea ice) has evolved, not only in recent times but also during earlier geological periods when global temperature and atmospheric CO2 levels were similar to what might be reached by the end of this century. ANDRILL’s integrated science approach will use stratigraphic drilling, coring, and multi-proxy core analysis combined with geophysical surveys and numerical modeling to study the Cenozoic history of Antarctic climate and ice sheets, the evolution of polar biota, Antarctic tectonism, and Antarctica’s role in the evolution of Earth’s ocean–climate system.

The two inaugural ANDRILL projects, McMurdo Ice Shelf Project (MIS) and Southern McMurdo Sound Project (SMS), will be drilled in late 2006 and late 2007, respectively, in the McMurdo Sound Region of the Ross Sea (for science plans, see, and research on these projects will continue throughout the International Polar Year (IPY, 2007–2008). Funding from Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and the United States supported the development of a new dedicated drilling system and drilling camp for ice-based operations. The anticipated twenty-year lifespan of the drilling rig is expected to enable future drilling in other regions of the Antarctic margin. Future ANDRILL projects will depend on new proposals to national funding agencies. ANDRILL is managed through the McMurdo-ANDRILL Science Implementation Committee (M-ASIC) and the ANDRILL Operations Management Group (AOMG), whose directions are implemented through the Science Management Office (SMO) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Project Operator’s Office within Antarctica New Zealand, respectively. Ongoing and future community involvement, proposal development, and site characterization are encouraged, facilitated, and coordinated by the ANDRILL Science Committee (ASC) and the SMO.