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Chinese Explorers to Set up Seismic Stations in Antarctica
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Chinese scientists will set up two seismic stations in Antarctica later this year to measure tremors and tectonic movements on the continent, a geologist said on Friday.

The two broadband seismic stations will be installed at Eagle Camp, 806 kilometers from Zhongshan Station, one of China's two permanent exploration stations, and Dome-A, the highest point on the continent about 4,093 meters above sea level, said An Meijian, a researcher with the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.

An and 16 other potential Antarctic explorers are currently receiving a two-week field training program in Tibet that will prepare them for China's 24th Antarctic expedition scheduled for October.

Upon their return from the expedition, An said they would have extracted the first batch of surveillance data. Through an analysis of the data, they would expect to work out seismic images of the crust and upper mantle beneath the two observation sites, he said.

"We'll also refer to data obtained by international scientists and work out a detailed tectonic map of the Antarctic icecap," he said.

Worldwide scientists are increasingly keen on the research into the tectonic movements of Antarctica, which used to be two plates that pulled away from each other in the northern Ross Sea between 28 and 40 million years ago.

"The two plates have since solidified into one, which is what confused geologists," said An.

The Chinese expedition team, consisting 219 explorers, will also fix the site of China's third scientific research station at the South Pole, a planned observatory with seven telescopes and one acoustic radar at Dome-A.

Construction of the new station is part of the country's contribution to International Polar Year (IPY) 2007/2008 which runs from March 1, 2007, to March 1, 2008.

The observatory will be used for scientific research in summer but will eventually be developed into a permanent station capable of accommodating scientific research all year round, said E Dongchen, director of the Chinese Antarctic Center of Surveying and Mapping.

Scientists will install a wireless sensor network to monitor Antarctic glacial changes, said Dr. Cheng Xiao, a remote sensing specialist of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

(Xinhua News Agency August 25, 2007)

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