UK's Halley research station in Antarctica will shut down and have to move due to widening ice shelf crack

A 'Halloween Crack' has led to staff leaving until November

Andrew Griffin
Monday 16 January 2017 17:56
The Halley VI Research Station is being relocated to a new site 23 kilometres away
The Halley VI Research Station is being relocated to a new site 23 kilometres away

Scientists are being moved out of the British Antarctic Survey's Halley base because of a huge new crack in the ice.

The unusual and unexpected move is necessary because of a huge new crack in the Brunt Ice Shelf, where the research station sits. The crack doesn't pose any immediate danger, officials said, but the people living there will be removed until the danger is assessed.

The inhabitants will leave in March. The BAS hopes that they can move back in after the Antarctic winter, in November.

The cause of the evacuation is a "Halloween Crack", which was found on 31 October. It's around 17km from the base, but could pose a risk to the people living inside the Halley base, according to the organisation.

"Changes to the ice, particularly the growth of a new crack, presents a complex glaciological picture that means that BAS scientists are unable to predict with certainty what will happen to the ice shelf during the forthcoming Antarctic winter," BAS said in a statement.

"As a precautionary measure, BAS will remove its people before the Antarctic winter begins."

The Halley VI Research Station

The Halley base is made up a series of pods that are attached to hydraulic legs, which can be moved along using skis that are on the bottom. That happens periodically to ensure that they are kept away from the shelf edge and ensure the safety of people inside.

Such a move is happening right now, with just one pod being moved 23km to the new site. But the new and separate crack has led to the current problems, according to BAS.

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