Cool fact…
Heard Island and McDonald Islands are surface exposures of the Kerguelen Plateau which, at around 2 million square kilometres, is one of the largest oceanic plateaus in the world.

Research expeditions

The unique and largely unmodified natural qualities of Heard Island and its surrounding waters have for many years attracted the attention of hardy scientists, willing to make the long ocean journey and brave harsh elements to better understand what's there, how it is changing and why.

Early visits were brief but important in providing initial records and baseline data, which has been built upon by more recent expeditions.

Early scientific visits

The first recorded scientific visit to Heard Island was by the Challenger in 1874, when a brief landing was made at Atlas Cove and a few scientific samples were collected. Poor weather limited the visit to three hours.

Later the same year, the Arcona brought a German expedition to Heard Island, looking for suitable sites for observing a transit of Venus. It is likely that the poor weather discouraged their interest in the island.

Three scientific visits to the island were made in the early 20th century. The first was in February 1902 by the German Antarctic Expedition, when a small team landed at Atlas Cove for a brief visit to make observations and collect samples.

The second was an eight-day visit to the Atlas Cove region in January 1928 by two French geologists and the third was in November 1929 by the British Australian New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition, led by Douglas Mawson. As with previous visits, poor weather reduced the duration of the visit and limited the scientific investigations by the field party.

More recent scientific visits

Periodic Australian research expeditions have been made to HIMI since the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE) station at Atlas Cove was established in December 1947, and more recent research expeditions have also been made by other nations.

This page was last updated on 28 February 2005.