Study of the active layer at the Spanish Antarctic station «Gabriel de Castilla», Deception Island, Antarctica

De Pablo, M. A., Molina, A., Recio, C., Ramos, M., Goyanes, G., Ropero, M. A. 2017. Study of the active layer at the Spanish Antarctic station «Gabriel de Castilla», Deception Island, Antarctica. Boletín Geológico y Minero 128, 1, 69-91, DOI: 10.21701/bolgeomin.128.1.004

The degradation of permanent frozen ground (permafrost) and the increase in the thickness of the active layer may be caused both by natural processes (such as global climate change) and by anthropic activity, which changes the natural environmental conditions that allow its existence, as has been widely reported to occur in the northern polar and subpolar regions. In the case of Antarctica, some scientific research stations are located in areas with permafrost, such as the Spanish Antarctic station «Gabriel de Castilla» on Deception Island. In the place where the station is located, an important increase in erosion has been observed in recent years, including the excavation of new gullies and the erosion of the coastal cliffs. In order to develop an initial analysis of the possible effects of the station on the permafrost degradation, ground temperature has been monitored since 2012 and the thickness and of the active layer and the temperature, both inside and beneath the station, have also been sporadically measured. Here we show the results and discuss how the station reduces the freezing of the ground during the winter when the station is closed and facilitates the warming of the ground during the living periods of the station in the Antarctic summer. Those initial results and conclusions make necessary to continue the study of the permafrost and the active layer in the station site by systematic monitoring of the ground temperature and the thickness of the active layer.

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