ANDRILL (ANtarctic geological DRILLing) is a multinational collaboration comprised of more than 200 scientists, students, and educators from five nations (Germany, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States) to recover stratigraphic records from the Antarctic margin using Cape Roberts Project (CRP) technology. The chief objective is to drill back in time to recover a history of paleoenvironmental changes that will guide our understanding of how fast, how large, and how frequent were glacial and interglacial changes in the Antarctica region. Future scenarios of global warming require guidance and constraint from past history that will reveal potential timing frequency and site of future changes.

Logistical considerations, the extent of existing knowledge of the region, a proven chronological framework, availability of suitable strata for paleoenvironmental and geological study, and majority of initial interest dictated that the McMurdo Sound region be the first area for further Antarctic drilling under the ANDRILL banner. Future target areas around the West Antarctic margin include the Eastern Ross Sea, Weddell Sea and Palmer Basin in West Antarctica, and Terra Nova Bay, Beaver Lake, Prydz Bay and Wilkes Land in East Antarctica. Because of the wide range of proposed drilling targets, individual drilling objectives are grouped into logistically-constrained portfolios. The first is the McMurdo Sound Portfolio (MSP).

Specific science objectives of the MSP include:

  • obtain high-resolution sediment cores that record major glacial events and transitional periods over the past 40 million years;
  • determine orbital and sub-orbital glacio-climatic fluctuations that vary on 100,000, 40,000, and 20,000 year cycles
  • obtain a refined record of the onset and development of the East Antarctic ice sheet (EAIS) 40 million years ago
  • identify how the Antarctic region responded to past events of global warmth
  • derive a detailed history of Antarctic Holocene environmental change at the end of the last glaciation
  • and test global linkages between climate changes in the Northern and Southern hemispheres

Operations and logistics for ANDRILL are managed by Antarctica New Zealand. The scientific research is administered and coordinated through the ANDRILL Science Management Office, located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.