Antarctic Drilling Project

The Antarctic Drilling Project, known as ANDRILL, investigated past Antarctic climate from sediment cores in the McMurdo region of Antarctica.

ANDRILL McMurdo Ice Shelf drillsite, Antarctica

ANDRILL, the Antarctic Drilling Project is the international collaborative project that followed on from the successful Cape Roberts Project.

The Antarctic Research Centre took a leading role in the Cape Roberts Project, and is also very involved in ANDRILL, along with researchers in other New Zealand organisations, and in the US, Germany and Italy.

The ANDRILL project is investigating past Antarctic climate from sediment cores in the McMurdo region of Antarctica. The project represents a major technological challenge, with the two sites in water deeper than 800 m, and on floating ice 100-150 m thick.

Work to develop the drilling system and site survey work began in 2001, with the first drilling season at the ANDRILL McMurdo Ice Shelf (MIS) drill site was completed in December 2006. The second drilling phase, the ANDRILL Southern McMurdo Sound (SMS) project was completed in December 2007. These first two drilling projects include the two deepest drillholes on the Antarctic continent, at 1284.87 and 1138.54 metres below sea floor, respectively (both with 98% recovery).

The cores provide a unique record of the history of the Ross Ice Shelf and Antarctic Ice Sheets spanning the last 20 million years, comprising numerous cycles of ice advance and retreat under a range of climate conditions, some of which may represent extended periods when the climate was a few degrees warmer and atmospheric carbon dioxide was higher than present, much like that predicted for the next century or two.

Paleoclimate data from the ANDRILL project are being integrated with the latest ice sheet models to better predict the future response of Antarctic ice sheets to global warming.

Antarctic Research Centre staff

Researchers involved with the science include:


  • Project Operator Antarctica New Zealand
  • Drillers at Webster Drilling & Exploration Ltd
  • Researchers at GNS Science
  • Researchers at University of Otago
  • Researchers at NIWA
  • Researchers at University of Canterbury
  • Partners in the USA
  • Partners in Italy
  • Partners in Germany
ANDRILL McMurdo Ice Shelf Science Integration Workshop, February 2009