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Major Gathering To Discuss Antarctic Science



More than 300 scientists from 26 countries will descend on New Zealand this week for a six-day conference on Antarctic earth sciences.

The 8th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences, being held at Victoria University, is a chance for researchers from all points on the globe to share the latest findings on the frozen continent. It is the first time New Zealand has hosted the four-yearly event.

The symposium, which runs from 4 to 9 July, has been organised by Victoria University and the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited (GNS).

In an age of diminishing frontiers, Antarctica remains as a place of pristine environments that hold vital information for understanding how the earth works.

The main symposium themes are:
· Antarctica's deep past - before 400 million years
· Continental connections - plate tectonics
· Past and present Antarctic ice sheets.

Symposium convenor Fred Davey of GNS said Antarctica was a unique scientific laboratory that provided researchers with unrivalled opportunities to study things such as climate change, the oceans, the physical properties of the earth, the impact of humans on the environment, and the powerful influence Antarctica has on global processes.

" New Zealand has been at the forefront since the earliest Antarctic expeditions, and New Zealand scientists continue to play an important role in helping the international scientific community understand the processes occurring in Antarctica,'' Dr Davey said.

"Antarctica is an intellectually stimulating, physically demanding, and highly collaborative area where many New Zealand scientists have developed international reputations for their work.''

This symposium is an opportunity for New Zealand scientists and other leading researchers to discuss recent findings and develop research priorities for the future.''

As part of the symposium, expatriate New Zealand scientists Peter Webb and Barrie McKelvey will give a public lecture on Antarctic exploration at Te Papa (The Museum of New Zealand) on the evening of Wednesday, July 7.

Professor Webb, from Ohio State University, and Dr McKelvey, from the University of New England, New South Wales, will revisit their participation in the 1956-58 Hillary-Fuchs Transantarctic Expedition, and review highlights of geological exploration of Antarctica over the past four decades.

There will also be a number of free public lectures on Antarctica and associated topics in Victoria University's Maclaurin Lecture Theatre 103, which can be reached through gates five and six off Kelburn Parade.

Another highlight will be a lunchtime concert that will include a piece of music called "Deep Time" which has been specially commissioned for the symposium. It will receive its world premiere on July 5 in the Victoria University council chambers. It has been composed by Associate Professor of Music at Victoria, Ross Harris, and will be performed by 14 brass players from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

In addition, works by artists who have visited Antarctica will be on display at the symposium venue.

Two Antarctic workshops have been organised to coincide with the symposium. One will review results of studies on core samples from the multi-national, multi-year Cape Roberts drilling project. The other workshop will plan a further decade of research and direct sampling (drilling) to improve the understanding of Antarctic glacial history.

The main symposium sponsors are:
· Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)
· Royal Society of New Zealand
· Victoria University of Wellington
· Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited.


For more information contact:

Dr Warren Dickinson
School of Earth Sciences
Victoria University
Ph: 04-472-1000 (w)


Jacqui Van Der Kaay
Marketing & Communications
Victoria University
Ph: 04-472-1000


John Callan
Communications Manager
Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited
Ph: 04-570-1444 (w)

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