The Ross Sea Region soils

Soil data deposited in our Ross Sea region soils database is part of the New Zealand National Soils Repository that is managed by Landcare Research.

Available Data

The database contains historic and recent soil site and soil pit horizon data from:

  1. Thirty five years of soil studies by Drs Ian Campbell and Graeme Claridge and their colleagues.
  2. Investigation since 2005 by Mr Malcolm McLeod, Dr Megan Balks, Prof Jim Bockheim and colleagues in Wright Valley, Cape Hallett, and the Darwin Mountains.

Included in the database are descriptions of over 1000 soil pits at soil sites clustered around ice-free areas, reaching as far south and east as 87º S, 150º E and as far north and west as 72º S, 170º E. For each soil pit, site and soil horizons are described in detail. Site descriptions include observations of the surrounding geological, topographic and climatic contexts, and local surface features, site moisture, parent material and biology.


Data on the site is taken from the following sources:

  • Soil sites

    Soil site and soil pit horizon data from 35 years of soil studies by Iain Campbell, Graeme Claridge and their colleagues have been organised into the soils reports accessible from this part of the website. You can also view the soil sites using an interactive map viewer.

  • SCAR Composite Gazeteer of Antarctic Placenames (CGA)

    The SCAR CGA is managed by the Italian Antarctic Research Programme, and can be downloaded from their website. The copy here has been reformatted from a Excel document into ESRI's shapefile format for use within a GIS.

  • Antarctic Digital Database

    Vector data from the SCAR ADD managed by British Antarctic Survey has been downloaded from their website. For the Ross Sea this data is dominantly derived from the printed 1:250,000 USGS topographic map series of the region. The original data was organised in seperate sheets, within each layer, the sheets have been merged into a single shapefile for efficient access. The data provided are from ADD v6.0.

  • RAMP-1 125m SAR mosaic

    A quadrant of the 1.6GB medium resolution version of the Radarsat-1 Antarctic Mapping Project (RAMP) SAR mosaic was extracted and downloaded for use in this website.


The Ross Sea Region soils database is provided by Landcare Research and is served over the web as part of Landcare Research’s National Soils Database. We appreciate the financial support of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, New Zealand (CO9X0307 and C09X1001) and the logistic support of Antarctica New Zealand, Helicopters New Zealand, and the staff at Scott Base. Soil analyses were done in the Environmental Chemistry Laboratory, Landcare Research, New Zealand.


Bockheim, JG and McLeod, M. 2006. Soil formation in Wright Valley, Antarctica since the Late Neogene. Geoderma 137:109-116.
Bockheim, J.G., McLeod, M. 2008. Soil distribution in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Geoderma 144: 43-49.
Bockheim, J. G., Campbell, I. B., McLeod, M. 2008. Use of soil chronosequences for testing the existence of high-water-level lakes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Catena 74, 144–152
Campbell IB, Claridge GGC. 1987: Antarctica: soils, weathering processes and environment. Elsevier, Amsterdam. 368p.
Hofstee EH, Balks MR, Petchey F, Campbell DI. 2006. Soils of Seabee Hook, Cape Halllet Northern Victoria Land, Antarctica. Antarctic Science 18: 473-486.
Gibb RG, Campbell IB, Claridge GGC. 2002: 35 years of Ross Sea region soil studies on-line. Third International Conference on Contaminants in Freezing Ground, Hobart 14-18 April.2002
McLeod M, Bockheim JG, Balks MR. 2008. Glacial geomorphology, soil development and permafrost features in central-upper Wright Valley, Antarctica. Geoderma. 144: 93-103.
McLeod M, Bockheim J, Balks M, Aislabie, J. 2009. Soils of western Wright Valley, Antarctica. Antarctic Science. 21: 355-365.