Digital Geological Map of Marie Byrd Land


Bedrock exposures are comparatively sparse in Marie Byrd Land, but they provide important constraints on the geological evolution and glacial history of West Antarctica. We prepared the first digital geological map for Marie Byrd Land using ground-based geological data, gathered from firsthand observations, published literature, and legacy map data. Also mapped are supraglacial features, seasonal water and blue ice, through use of 1:250 000 USGS maps and features identified in satellite imagery via the Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica and DigitalGlobe derivative products held by the Polar Geospatial Center.  The Digital Geological Map of Marie Byrd Land is a component of SCAR GeoMap, a continent-scale compilation with spatial accuracy of ±250 m. Feature classification is according to international GeoSciML data format.  Recent conference presentations of the completed dataset are here [Millikin et al. 2017; Siddoway et al. 2018]; a recent GeoMap update is here.

The most extensive outcrops in Marie Byrd Land are found in the Ford Ranges and Edward VII Peninsula, bordering the Ross Sea and Ice Shelf. The completed western Marie Byrd Land map covers an on-continent coastal area of 135,000 km2 between 140°E to 160°E and from 75°S to 80°S. The resolvable scale is 1:250 000 or better. Exposed rock is delimited by 911 polygons, occupying 250 km2 that comprises 0.2% of the total area. The geology consists of Early Paleozoic metaturbidites intruded by mid-Paleozoic and late Mesozoic granitoids, with migmatite-granite associations exposed in the footwall of detachment faults. Meager volcanic exposures contain abundant ultramafic xenoliths.  The map of central and eastern Marie Byrd Land and Ellsworth Mountains is also completed. Exposed rock is delimited by 3560 polygons.

Supraglacial features, glacial till and hyaloclastite, together with seasonal water and blue ice, are distinguished within the digital map due to their relevance to ice sheet history and dynamics. In western Marie Byrd Land, there are 119 mapped till deposit polygons (11.2 km2), 58 supraglacial tills (5.7 km2) and 69 seasonal water features (21.5 km2) that provide a baseline for past and future glaciological change.

Rendered in geographic information system software Esri© ArcMap, the GIS is available as GoogleEarth .kmz files. To request the kmz or map Legend, contact csiddoway AT


Map compilation completed with contributions from:

Lexie Millikin, Sam Elkind, Tristan White, Merril Stypula, Alexandra Freeman, Maggie Cowling, Rose Vail Bloom, Simon C. Cox, Brad Herried, and Noah Villamarin-Cutter. Facilities and technological support:  GIS Lab – Colorado College, Polar Geospatial Center, and GNS Science. Ground-based geological mapping was supported by NSF-OPP-9615282, 0944777,  0338279;  NSF-AES-944600; and NSF-AISS-1443497.

Western Marie Byrd Land GeoMap sources

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Luyendyk, B. P., Wilson, D. and Siddoway, C.S., 2003, The eastern margin of the Ross Sea Rift in western Marie Byrd Land: Crustal structure and tectonic development: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (G3), v. 4 (10), 1090, doi:10.1029/2002GC000462.

Siddoway, C.S., Sass, L.C. III, Esser, R.P., 2005, Kinematic history of the Marie Byrd Land terrane, West Antarctica: Direct evidence from Cretaceous mafic dykes, in Vaughan, A., Leat, P., and Pankhurst, R.J. (eds.), Terrane Processes at the Margin of Gondwana, Geological Society of London, Special Publication 246, p. 417-438.

Siddoway, C., 2008, Tectonics of the West Antarctic rift system: New light on the history and dynamics of distributed intracontinental extension (invited paper) in Cooper, A.K. et al., Antarctica: A Keystone in a Changing World, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., pp. 91-114.

Siddoway, C., 1990 – 2012, firsthand observation and mapping (2 seasons in northern Ford Ranges, 1 season in Edward VII Peninsula, 2 seasons in southern Ford Ranges, and 4 seasons in Fosdick Mountains).

Wade, F.A., C.A. Cathey, and J.B. Oldham, Reconnaissance geologic map of the Guest Peninsula quadrangle, Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica, Map A-7, U. S. Antarctic Research Program, Reston, VA, 1977a.

Wade, F.A., C.A. Cathey, and J.B. Oldham, Reconnaissance geologic map of the Boyd Glacier quadrangle, Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica, Map A-6., U. S. Antarctic Research Program, Reston, VA, 1977b.

Wade, F.A., C.A. Cathey, and J.B. Oldham, Reconnaissance geologic map of the Alexandra Mountains quadrangle, Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica, Map A-5, U. S. Antarctic Research Program, Reston, VA, 1977c.

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Central and Eastern Marie Byrd Land  //  Thurston Island  GeoMap sources

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