Iceberg banner13

Science Menu

Past Antarctic Ice Sheet dynamics (PAIS)

The Standing Committee for Undersea Feature Name (SCUFN) has approved some new feature names for the East Antarctic continental margin. The area is seaward of the Sabrina Coast of Wilkes Land between 114° and 122°E. The new names apply to a suite of submarine canyons and a submarine valley.

Five of the names are words provided by the Noongar People, the Australian Aboriginal group whose traditional lands would have been adjacent to the Sabrina Coast before Antarctica and Australia separated around 135 Million years ago. The sixth canyon is named after an eminent Australian marine scientist.

Geoscience Australia has produced a fly-through of the canyons available via YouTube.


The canyon names and their meaning are as follows:

Boongorang Canyons (Blowing in the wind) – this canyon system was mapped during a break from other operations due to bad weather 

Manang Canyons (Pool of Water Canyon) –named after scour pools in the canyon floor 

Maadjit Canyons (Water Serpent Canyon) – based on unusual sinuosity of the western branch of the canyon 

Morka Canyon (Winter Canyon) – this canyon was likely only active during intense glacial periods 

Minang-a Canyon (Whale Canyon) – in honour of the many humpback whales that we saw on the voyage 

A final sixth canyon system was called Jeffrey Canyons (after Shirley Jeffrey, an eminent Australian microalgae researcher) – these canyons contained a thick accumulation of single-celled algae (diatoms)

The canyons were mapped in 2017 by scientists on the CSIRO research vessel RV Investigator, by a team including Assoc. Prof. Leanne Armand (ANU), Dr Phil O’Brien (Macquarie University) and Dr Alix Post (Geoscience Australia). We thank the whole science team for their outstanding efforts, the CSIRO Marine National Facility for voyage support, and particularly Tara Martin and Stuart Edwards for assistance with multibeam acquisition and processing. This project is supported through the Australian Government’s Australian Antarctic Science Grant Program (AAS #4333) and through a grant of sea time on RV Investigator from the CSIRO Marine National Facility. The proposal for new names was greatly assisted by Ursula Harris at Australian Antarctic Division and by the Australian Hydrographic Office.

load more hold SHIFT key to load all load all