Wilkes Land

Last updated
Location of Wilkes Land (red), Australian Antarctic Territory in Antarctica Wilkes Land in Australian Antarctic Territory.svg
Location of Wilkes Land (red), Australian Antarctic Territory in Antarctica

Wilkes Land is a large district of land in eastern Antarctica, formally claimed by Australia as part of the Australian Antarctic Territory, though the validity of this claim has been placed for the period of the operation of the Antarctic Treaty, to which Australia is a signatory.



Wilkes Land fronts on the southern Indian Ocean between Queen Mary Coast and Adelie Land, extending from Cape Hordern in 100°31' E to Pourquoi Pas Point, in 136°11' E. The region extends as a sector about 2600  km towards the South Pole, with an estimated land area of 2,600,000 km², mostly glaciated.


Subdivisions of Wilkes Land, Australian Antarctic Territory in Antarctica
.mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}
Knox Coast
Budd Coast
Sabrina Coast
Banzare Coast
Clarie Coast
Australian Antarctic Territory
Antarctica Subdivisions of Wilkes Land, Australian Antarctic Territory.svg
Subdivisions of Wilkes Land, Australian Antarctic Territory in Antarctica

It is further subdivided in the following coastal areas which can also be thought of as sectors extending to the South Pole:

  1. Knox Land: 100°31' E to 109°16' E
  2. Budd Land: 109°16' E to 115°33' E
  3. Sabrina Land: 115°33' E to 122°05' E
  4. Banzare Land: 122°05' E to 130°10' E
  5. Clarie Land: (Wilkes Coast) 130°10' E to 136°11' E

In a wider sense, Wilkes Land extends further East to Point Alden in 142°02' E, thereby including Adélie Land, which is claimed by France.


Wilkes Land gets its name from Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, commander of the United States Exploring Expedition Commodore Charles Wilkes, commander of the United States Exploring Expedition 1838 - 1842.jpg
Wilkes Land gets its name from Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, commander of the United States Exploring Expedition

Wilkes Land is named after Lieutenant Charles Wilkes (later a rear admiral), the American explorer who commanded the 1838–42 United States Exploring Expedition. The naming is in recognition of Wilkes' discovery of the continental margin over a distance of 2,400  km (1,500  miles) of coast, thus providing substantial proof that Antarctica is a continent. [1] This definition of extent excludes the area east of 142°02' E, George V Land, which was sighted by Wilkes but has been shown by later expeditions to be further south than the positions originally assigned by him.


The ice front of Dibble Ice Shelf, a significant melt water producer from the Wilkes Land region, East Antarctica Dibble Ice Shelf, Wilkes Land, East Antarctica.jpg
The ice front of Dibble Ice Shelf, a significant melt water producer from the Wilkes Land region, East Antarctica

In 2006 a team of researchers led by Ralph von Frese and Laramie Potts used gravity measurements by NASA's GRACE satellites to discover the 300-mile-wide Wilkes Land crater, which probably formed about 250 million years ago. [2]

Wilkes Land is featured prominently in the 1998 film The X-Files . Fox Mulder journeys to Antarctica to save his partner Dana Scully, who is being held there against her will. In the process, they discover a huge secret lab under the surface run by the Cigarette-Smoking Man.

See also

Related Research Articles

History of Antarctica Past events regarding the continent of Antarctica

The history of Antarctica emerges from early Western theories of a vast continent, known as Terra Australis, believed to exist in the far south of the globe. The term Antarctic, referring to the opposite of the Arctic Circle, was coined by Marinus of Tyre in the 2nd century AD.

Douglas Mawson Australian geologist and explorer of the Antarctic (1882-1958)

Sir Douglas Mawson OBE FRS FAA was an Australian geologist, Antarctic explorer, and academic. Along with Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, and Sir Ernest Shackleton, he was a key expedition leader during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Jules Dumont dUrville French explorer and naval officer

Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville was a French explorer and naval officer who explored the south and western Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica. As a botanist and cartographer, he gave his name to several seaweeds, plants and shrubs, and places such as d'Urville Island in New Zealand.

Australian Antarctic Territory Australian territorial claim on East Antarctica

The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) is a part of East Antarctica administered by the Australian Antarctic Division, an agency of the federal Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment. The territory's history dates to a claim on Enderby Land made by the United Kingdom in 1841, which was subsequently expanded and eventually transferred to Australia in 1933. It is the largest territory of Antarctica claimed by any nation by area. In 1961, the Antarctic Treaty came into force. Article 4 deals with territorial claims, and although it does not renounce or diminish any pre-existing claims to sovereignty, it also does not prejudice the position of Contracting Parties in their recognition or non-recognition of territorial sovereignty. As a result, only four other countries — New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, and Norway recognise Australia's claim to sovereignty in Antarctica.

Adélie Land Territory in Antarctica claimed by France

Adélie Land is a claimed territory on the continent of Antarctica. It stretches from a portion of the Southern Ocean coastline all the way inland to the South Pole. France has administered it as one of five districts of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands since 1955 and applied the Antarctic Treaty System rules since 1961. Article 4 deals with territorial claims, and although it does not renounce or diminish any preexisting claims to sovereignty, it also does not prejudice the position of Contracting Parties in their recognition or non-recognition of territorial sovereignty. France has had a permanent station in Adélie Land since April 9, 1950. The current Dumont d'Urville Station has a winter population around 25, but this goes up to about 78 during the Antarctic summer. A species of penguin, the Adélie penguin, is named after it.

Polar drift Geological phenomenon resulting in shifts in the magnetic poles

Polar drift is a geological phenomenon caused by variations in the flow of molten iron in Earth's outer core, resulting in changes in the orientation of Earth's magnetic field, and hence the position of the magnetic north- and south poles.

Commonwealth Bay

Commonwealth Bay is an open bay about 48 km (30 mi) wide at the entrance between Point Alden and Cape Gray in Antarctica. It was discovered in 1912 by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition under Douglas Mawson, who established the main base of the expedition at Cape Denison at the head of the bay. Named by Australasian Antarctic Expedition after the Commonwealth of Australia.

Marie Byrd Land Unclaimed West Antarctic region

Marie Byrd Land (MBL) is an unclaimed region of Antarctica. With an area of 1,610,000 km2 (620,000 sq mi), it is the largest unclaimed territory on Earth. It was named after the wife of American naval officer Richard E. Byrd, who explored the region in the early 20th century.

Sabrina Coast

Sabrina Coast is that portion of the coast of Wilkes Land, Antarctica, lying between Cape Waldron, at 115° 33' E, and Cape Southard, at 122° 05' E. John Balleny has long been credited with having seen land in March 1839 at about 117° E.

George V Coast is that portion of the coast of Antarctica lying between Point Alden, at 148°2′E, and Cape Hudson, at 153°45′E.

Oates Land Segment of East Antarctica

Oates Land is a region of Antarctica. It is variously defined as a portion of the East Antarctica near the coast stretching along and inland from the Oates Coast and as an officially delineated wedge-shaped segment of the Australian Antarctic Territory. The segment of the Australian claim extends between 153°45' E and 160° E, forming a wedge between Latitude 60° S and the South Pole. It is bounded in the east by the Ross Dependency and overlaps George V Land to the west.

Mount Biscoe Mountain of Antarctica

Mount Biscoe is a distinctive black peak, the easternmost and largest of two ice-free rock massifs located 6 km south-west of Cape Ann on the coast of Enderby Land in Antarctica. About 700 m in height, it lies 7 km north-west of Wordie Nunatak, and 7 km north-east of Mount Hurley.

<i>Nimrod</i> Expedition First of three Antarctic expeditions led by Ernest Shackleton, 1907–09

The NimrodExpedition of 1907–1909, otherwise known as the British Antarctic Expedition, was the first of three successful expeditions to the Antarctic led by Ernest Shackleton. Its main target, among a range of geographical and scientific objectives, was to be first to the South Pole. This was not attained, but the expedition's southern march reached a Farthest South latitude of 88° 23' S, just 97.5 nautical miles from the pole. This was by far the longest southern polar journey to that date and a record convergence on either Pole. A separate group led by Welsh Australian geology professor Edgeworth David reached the estimated location of the South Magnetic Pole, and the expedition also achieved the first ascent of Mount Erebus, Antarctica's second highest volcano.

Wilkes Land crater is an informal term that may apply to two separate cases of conjectured giant impact craters hidden beneath the ice cap of Wilkes Land, East Antarctica. These are separated below under the heading Wilkes Land anomaly and Wilkes Land mascon , based on terms used in their principal published reference sources.

Territorial claims in Antarctica Land claims of the continent

Seven sovereign states–Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom–have made eight territorial claims in Antarctica. These countries have tended to place their Antarctic scientific observation and study facilities within their respective claimed territories; however, a number of such facilities are located outside of the area claimed by their respective countries of operation, and countries without claims such as India, Italy, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, and the United States have constructed research facilities within the areas claimed by other countries.

Antarctica Continent

Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent. Situated almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle and surrounded by the Southern Ocean, it contains the geographic South Pole. Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent, being nearly twice the size of Australia, and has an area of 14,200,000 km2 (5,500,000 sq mi). Most of Antarctica is covered by ice, with an average thickness of 1.9 km (1.2 mi).

Southern Ocean Ocean around Antarctica

The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60° S latitude and encircling Antarctica. As such, it is regarded as the second-smallest of the five principal oceanic divisions: smaller than the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans but larger than the Arctic Ocean. Over the past 30 years, the Southern Ocean has been subject to rapid climate change, which has led to changes in the marine ecosystem.

Queen Maud Land Norways territorial claim in Antarctica

Queen Maud Land is a roughly 2.7-million-square-kilometre (1.0-million-square-mile) region of Antarctica claimed by Norway as a dependent territory. It borders the claimed British Antarctic Territory 20° west and the Australian Antarctic Territory 45° east. In addition, a small unclaimed area from 1939 was annexed on 12 June 2015. Positioned in East Antarctica, it makes out about one-fifth of the continent, and is named after the Norwegian queen Maud of Wales (1869–1938).

South magnetic pole Point on Earths Southern Hemisphere

The south magnetic pole is the point on Earth's Southern Hemisphere where the geomagnetic field lines are directed vertically upwards. The Geomagnetic South Pole, a related point, is the south pole of an ideal dipole model of the Earth's magnetic field that most closely fits the Earth's actual magnetic field.


  1. Stanton, William (1975). The Great United States Exploring Expedition . Berkeley: University of California Press. pp.  175. ISBN   0520025571.
  2. Gorder, Pam Frost (June 1, 2006). "Big Bang in Antarctica — Killer Crater Found Under Ice". Research News.

Coordinates: 69°00′S120°00′E / 69.000°S 120.000°E / -69.000; 120.000