Electrical structure beneath Schirmacher Oasis, East Antarctica: a magnetotelluric study

  • D. N. Murthy CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute
  • K. Veeraswamy
  • T. Harinarayana
  • U.K. Singh
  • M. Santosh
Keywords: Magnetotellurics, Schirmacher Oasis crustal structure, East Antarctica, Mozambique Belt, electrical conductivity


Maitri Station (70.76°S; 11.73°E) is located in Schirmacher Oasis, a coastal nunatak in north-central Dronning Maud Land covering an area of 35 km2. Here, we report results from the first magnetotelluric experiments and delineate the deep electrical conductivity structure under Schirmacher Oasis using the data acquired during the 24th Indian Antarctic Scientific Expedition. The magnetotelluric method has the advantage of shallow to deeper level coverage as the data acquisition covers a wide frequency band of 10-3103 Hz, permitting different penetration depths depending on the frequency and conductivity of the layer under investigation. The modelling results indicate the presence of a highly resistive (8000-10 000 ohm m) upper crust, which shows a lateral variation in thickness from 20 km (below site 6) in the east to 10 km (between sites 1 and 2) in the west. It is underlain by a less resistive (500-600 ohm m) lower crust. The highly resistive upper crustal structure supports the existing notion that western Dronning Maud Land is a stable, cratonic platform. Results of free-air gravity, seismic, geomagnetic and surface wave dispersion investigations in East Antarctica also indicate a cratonic-type crust. The results of our study allow us to identify a westward thinning of the upper crust with a marked boundary between sites 1 and 2. We also find evidence for the continuity of the Mozambique mobile belt in East Antarctica on the western side of Schirmacher Oasis.

Keywords: Magnetotellurics; Schirmacher Oasis crustal structure; East Antarctica; Mozambique Belt; electrical conductivity

(Published: 20 November 2013)

Citation: Polar Research 2013, 32, 17309, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/polar.v32i0.17309


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Author Biography

D. N. Murthy, CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute
Chief Scientist, MTS division,  NGRI
How to Cite
Murthy, D., Veeraswamy, K., Harinarayana, T., Singh, U., & Santosh, M. (2013). Electrical structure beneath Schirmacher Oasis, East Antarctica: a magnetotelluric study. Polar Research, 32. https://doi.org/10.3402/polar.v32i0.17309
Research/review articles