Antarctica

ANTARCTICA (RU: Антарктида) is the southern polar mainland, which(Map) Antarctica is occupying the central part of the southern Antarctic polar region. It is situated almost entirely inside of the Antarctic Circle.

General information. The area of Antarctica with coastal shelf glaciers is 13,975 thousand square kilometres, the area of continent with mainland coastal shelf is 16,355 thousand square kilometres. The average height is 2040 metres, the maximal height is 5140 metres (the Vinson massif). The surface of the glacial shield of Antarctica, which is covering almost the entire mainland, exceeds 3000 metres within the central part, forming the largest plateau on the Earth, which is exceeding in area Tibet by 5-6 times. The Transantarctic mountain range, which is crossing the entire mainland from the Victoria land to the eastern coast of the Weddell sea, divides Antarctica into two parts, namely, Eastern and Western, which are differing by the geological structure and relief.

The history of research and development. Antarctica as the icy continent has been discovered on January 28 of 1820 by the Russian military naval circumnavigation expedition under the leadership of F.F.Bellingshausen and M.P.Lazarev. Later, as the result of the work of expeditions of various countries (USA, Great Britain, France), there have started to gradually take shape the contours of the shores of the icy continent. The first proofs of existence of the ancient mainland crystalline basement under the glacial cover of Antarctica have appeared after the works of the English expedition on the ship "Challenger" (1874) within the Antarctic waters. English geologist John Murray has published in 1894 a map, where has been drawn on which the Antarctic continent as the unified massif of land. The ideas about the nature of Antarctica were formed mainly as the result of generalization of materials of marine expeditions and researches, which have been accomplished during the travels and at the scientific stations on the coast and within the interior regions of the mainland. The first scientific station, where have been performed on which the year-round observations, has been created at the start of 1899 by the British expedition under the leadership of the Norwegian researcher K.Borchgrevink on the cape Adare (the northern coast of the Victoria land).

The first scientific travels into the deep interior of Antarctica on the coastal shelf Ross glacier and on the high-mountainous glacial plateau of the Victoria land have been accomplished by the British expedition of R.Scott (1901-03). The British expedition of E.Shackleton (1907-09) has traveled from the Ross peninsula toward the South Pole to 88 degrees 23 minutes of the Southern latitude. There have reached the South geographic pole for the first time on December 14 of 1911 R.Amundsen, and on January 17 of 1912 the British expedition of Scott. The great contribution into the study of Antarctica has been introduced by the British - Australian - New Zealand expeditions of D.Mawson (1911-14 and 1929-1931), and also by the American expeditions of R.Byrd (1928-30, 1933-35, 1939-41, 1946-47). Within the November-December of 1935, the American expedition of L.Ellsworth has traversed the mainland for the first time on the airplane from the Antarctic peninsula to the Ross sea. For a long time, the stationary year-round observations were conducted at the onshore bases of the Antarctic expeditions (mostly of the episodical character), the main goal of which was the routing reconnaissance survey of the poorly (or almost not) studied spaces of Antarctica. Only within the middle of the 40s of the 20th century, there have been established on the Antarctic peninsula the long-time acting stations.

The extensive researches of the icy continent with the usage of the modern transportation means and of the scientific apparatuses have been unfolded during the International Geophysical Year (IGY; from July 1 of 1957 to December 31 of 1958). There have taken part in these researches the 11 countries, including the USSR, USA, Great Britain, and France. There has sharply increased the quantity of the scientific stations. The Soviet polar explorers have created the main base, namely, "Mirny" observatory, on the shore of the cape Davis, have established the first intracontinental "Pioneer" station within the deep interior of the Eastern Antarctica (at the distance of 375 kilometres from the shore), and later yet 4 more intracontinental stations within the central regions of the mainland. There have created their stations within the deep interior of Antarctica the expeditions of the USA, Great Britain, and France. The total quantity of stations in Antarctica has reached 50. At the end of 1957, there has been accomplished by the Soviet researchers the travel to the region of the geomagnetic pole, where has been created the "Vostok" station; at the end of 1958, there has been reached the pole of the relative inaccessibility. In the summer season of 1957-58, the British - New Zealand expedition under the leadership of V.Fuchs and E.Hillary has traversed for the first time the Antarctic mainland from the coast of the Weddell sea via the South Pole to the Ross sea.

The largest geological and geological-geophysical researches within Antarctica are conducted by the expeditions of the USA and USSR. American geologists work mostly within the Western Antarctica, and also within the Victoria land and Transantarctic mountains. Soviet expeditions have embraced with their researches almost entire coast of the Eastern Antarctica and significant part of the adjacent mountainous regions, and also the coast of the Weddell sea and its mountainous rim. Besides this, Soviet geologists participated in the works of the expeditions of the USA and Great Britain, conducting the researches within the Marie Byrd land, Ellsworth land, Antarctic peninsula, and within the Transantarctic mountains. There work within Antarctica approximately 30 scientific stations (1980), which are operating permanently or during the long time period, and 11 countries maintain temporary expeditionary bases with shift personnel. The wintering personnel at the stations is approximately 800 persons, of which approximately 300 persons are participants of the Soviet Antarctic expeditions. The largest permanently functioning stations are the "Molodezhnaya" and "Mirny" (USSR) and "McMurdo" (USA) ones.

The layer of the hard coal

As the result of the researches with the help of the various geophysical methods, there have been clarified the major peculiarities of the nature of the icy continent. There have been obtained for the first time the facts about the thickness of the glacial cover of Antarctica, have been determined its major morphometric characteristics, has been given the concept about the relief of the glacial bed. Of 28 million cubic kilometres of volume of the mainland, which are located above the level of the sea, only 3.7 million cubic kilometres, that is only approximately 13%, belong to the "stone Antarctica". The remaining 87% (more than 24 million cubic kilometres) are the thick glacial cover, the thickness of which within the certain regions exceeds 4.5 kilometres, while average thickness is 1964 metres.

Glacial cover and relief of Antarctica. Glacial shield of Antarctica consists of 5 large and great number of small peripherals, of the surface domes and covers. On the area of 1.5 million square kilometres (approximately 11% of the territory of the entire mainland) the glacial cover is afloat in the form of the coastal shelf glaciers. The territories, which are not covered with ice (mountain peaks, ridges, coastal oases), occupy a total of approximately 0.2-0.3% of the entire mainland. The facts about the thickness of the Earth's crust testify about its continental character within the limits of the mainland, where the thickness of the crust is 30-40 kilometres. There is supposed the total isostatic equilibrium of Antarctica, namely, the compensation of the load of the glacial cover by the subsidence of the Earth's crust.

There are distinguished within the bedrock (subglacial) relief of the Eastern Antarctica the 9 large orographic units: the Eastern plain with heights ranging from -300 to +300 metres, which lies to the west of the Transantarctic mountainous range, along the direction to the "Vostok" station; the Schmidt plain, which is situated to the south of the 70th parallel, between 90 and 120 degrees of the eastern longitude (its heights range from -2400 to +500 metres); the Western plain (within the southern part of the Queen Maud land), the surface of which is located approximately at the level of the sea; the mountains of Gamburtsev and Vernadsky, which have stretched themselves in the shape of the arc (with the length of approximately 2500 kilometres, with the height of up to 3400 metres above the level of the sea) from the western end of the Schmidt plain to the Riser-Larsen peninsula; the Eastern plateau (the height is 1000-1500 metres), which is adjacent at the south-east to the eastern end of the Schmidt plain; the IGY valley with the Prince Charles mountainous system; the Transantarctic mountains, which are crossing the entire mainland from the Weddell sea to the Ross sea (the height is up to 4500 metres); the mountains of the Queen Maud land with the greatest height of more than 3000 metres and with the length of approximately 1500 kilometres; the mountainous system of the Enderby land (the height is 1500-3000 metres). Within the Western Antarctica, there are distinguished 4 main orographic units: the mountainous range of the Antarctic peninsula and Alexander I land (the height is 3600 metres); the mountainous massifs of the coast of the Amundsen sea (3000 metres); the median massif with the Ellsworth mountains (the maximal height is 5140 metres); the Byrd plain with minimal level mark of -2555 metres.

The climate of Antarctica, especially of its internal regions, is distinguished by severity. The large height of the surface of the glacial shield, exceptional transparency of the air, predominance of the clear weather, and also the circumstance, that the Earth is located at perihelion during the middle of the Antarctic summer, create favourable conditions for the arrival of the huge quantity of the solar radiation during the summer months. Monthly values of the total solar radiation within the central regions of the mainland during the summer are significantly greater, than within any other region of the Earth's globe. However, because of the great values of albedo of the snowy surface (approximately 85%) even during December and January, large part of radiation is reflected into the outer space, and absorbed energy scarcely compensates for the loss of heat within the long-wavelength range. Because of this, even during the heat of the summer, the temperature of the air is negative within the central regions of Antarctica, and does not exceed -13.6 degrees Celsius within the region of the cold pole at the "Vostok" station. Within the largest part of the coast, during the summer, maximal temperature of the air is only slightly greater than 0 degrees Celsius. During the winter, during the round-the-clock polar night, the air within the surface layer is cooled very much, and temperature falls below -80 degrees Celsius. During the August of 1960, at the "Vostok" station, there has been registered the minimal temperature on the surface of our planet, namely, -88.3 degrees Celsius. There are frequent within many places of the coast the hurricane winds, which are accompanied by the strong snowstorms, especially during the winter time. The speed of the wind often reaches 40-50 metres per second, and sometimes 60 metres per second.

(Map) tectonic map of Antarctica

Geological structure. There are distinguished within the structure of Antarctica the pre-Cambrian Antarctic platform (Eastern Antarctic craton), Late pre-Cambrian - Early Paleozoic fold system of the Transantarctic mountains, and Middle Paleozoic - Mesozoic Western Antarctic fold system (see the map).

There are situated within the interior regions of Antarctica the least studied areas of the mainland. The widest depressions of the native bedrock of Antarctica correspond to the actively developing sedimentary basins. The most important elements of the structure of the mainland are the numerous rift zones.

The Antarctic platform (the area is approximately 8 million square kilometres) occupies with its largest part the Eastern Antarctica and the sector of the Western Antarctica between 0 and 35 degrees of the western longitude. There is developed on the coast of the Eastern Antarctica the predominantly Archean crystalline basement, which is formed by the folded metamorphic strata of the granulitic and amphibolitic facies (enderbites, charnockites, granite-gneisses, pyroxene-plagioclase schists, and others) of the metamorphism. During the Late Archean time, these strata have been breached by the intrusions of granites, anorthosite-granosyenites, by the dikes of dolerites, and by the pegmatitic veins. There are locally embedded on the basement the Proterozoic and Lower Paleozoic sedimentary-volcanogenic rocks, and also the Permian terrigenous depositions and Jurassic basalts. The Proterozoic - Early Paleozoic folded strata (up to 6000-7000 metres) are embedded within the aulacogens (the Prince Charles mountains, Shackleton mountainous range, region of the Denman glacier, and others). The ancient cover is developed within the western part of the Queen Maud land, mainly on the Reacher highlands. Here are embedded on the Archean crystalline basement the subhorizontal platformal Proterozoic sedimentary-volcanogenic strata (up to 2000 metres), which are breached by the sills of the basic rocks. The Paleozoic complex of the cover is represented by the Permian coal-bearing strata (conglomerates, sandstones, shales, hard coals with the total thickness of up to 1300 metres), which are overlain within the certain places by the tholeiitic basalts (with the thickness of up to 1500-2000 metres) of the Middle Jurassic.

The Late Precambrian - Early Paleozoic folded system of the Transantarctic mountains (the Rossian stage) has appeared on the crust of the continental type. Its cross section has sharply expressed two-tier structure: the folded pre-Cambrian - Early Paleozoic basement is peneplained and overlain by the non-dislocated Middle Paleozoic - Early Mesozoic platformal cover. The folded basement includes the protrusions of the reworked pre-Rossian (Lower pre-Cambrian) foundation and Rossian proper (Upper pre-Cambrian - Paleozoic) volcanogenic-sedimentary strata. The Epirossian (Biconian) cover (up to 4000 metres) consists predominantly of the sedimentary rocks, which are crowned in certain places with Jurassic basalts. There predominate among the intrusive formations within the basement the rocks of the composition of the quartzous diorites and granodiorites with local development of the quartzous monzonites and granites; the intrusive facies of the Jurassic traps breach both basement and cover, while the largest sills localize themselves along the surface of the structural unconformity.

The Western Antarctic folded system surrounds Pacific coast of the mainland from the Drake passage at the east to the Ross sea at the west, and represents itself as the southern link of the Pacific mobile belt with the length of almost 4000 kilometres. Its structure is determined by the abundance of the protrusions of the metamorphic basement, which have been intensively reworked during the Mesozoic, and are partially bordered by the Late Paleozoic and Early Mesozoic geosynclinal complexes, which have been deformed near the Triassic-Jurassic boundary; the Late Mesozoic - Cenozoic structural stage is characterized by the weak dislocation of the thick sedimentary and volcanogenic formations, which were accumulating themselves on the background of the contrasting orogenesis, riftogenesis, and intrusive magmatism. The age and origin of the metamorphic basement of this zone have not been determined. There belong to the Late Paleozoic - Early Mesozoic geosynclinal complex the thick (several thousand metres) intensely dislocated strata of predominantly schist-greywacke composition; there exist within certain places the rocks of the siliceous-volcanogenic formation. There is widely developed the Late Jurassic - Early Cretaceous orogenic complex of volcanogenic-terrigenous composition. There are noted along the eastern coast of the Antarctic peninsula the outcrops of the Late Cretaceous - Paleogene molassic complex of the rocks. There are numerous the intrusions of the gabbro-granitic composition, mainly of the Cretaceous age.

The developing sedimentary basins represent themselves as the "apophyses" of the oceanic depressions within the body of the continent; their outlines are defined by the structures of collapse and, possibly, by the powerful expanding movements. There are distinguished within the Western Antarctica: the basin of the Ross sea with the thickness of sedimentary cover of 3000-4000 metres; the basin of the Amundsen and Bellingshausen seas, the facts on the deep structure of which practically do not exist; the basin of the Weddell sea, which is having the deeply submerged non-uniform basement, and the thickness of the cover, which is varying from 2000 metres to 10000-15000 metres. There are distinguished within the Eastern Antarctica the basin of the Victoria land, of the Wilkes land, and the Prydz bay. The thickness of the cover within the basin of the Prydz bay is 10000-12000 metres according to the geophysical data, the remaining basins within the Eastern Antarctica are outlined along the geomorphological peculiarities.

The rift zones are identified from the large quantity of the Cenozoic grabens on the basis of the specific features of the structure of the Earth's crust. There are most studied the rift zones of the Lambert glacier, of the Filchner glacier, and of the Bransfield strait. There serve as the geological evidence of the rifting processes the manifestations of the late Mesozoic - Cenozoic alkaline-ultrabasic and alkaline-basaltic magmatism.

Useful minerals. The manifestations and indications of minerals are uncovered at more than 170 locations within Antarctica (map).

Of this quantity, only 2 locations within the region of the Commonwealth sea are the deposits: one of the iron ores, another of the hard coal. Among the remaining ones, more than 100 are on the account of manifestations of the metallic minerals, approximately 50 are on the account of manifestations of the non-metallic minerals, 20 are on the account of manifestations of coals, and 3 are on the account of gas manifestations within the boreholes on the coastal shelf of the Ross sea. Approximately 20 manifestations of metallic minerals have been identified because of the increased contents of useful components within the geochemical samples. The degree of study of predominant majority of manifestations is very low, and is often limited to the statement of the fact of detection of certain mineral concentrations, with visual estimation of their quantitative content.

The combustible useful minerals are represented by the hard coal on the mainland and by the gas manifestations within the boreholes, which have been drilled on the coastal shelf of the Ross sea. The most significant accumulation of the hard coal, which is considered as deposit, is located within the Eastern Antarctica within the region of the Commonwealth sea. It includes 63 layers of the hard coal within the place with the area of approximately 200 square kilometres, which are concentrated within the range of the cross section of the Permian strata with the thickness of 800-900 metres. The thickness of individual coal layers is 0.1-3.1 metres, of 17 layers is more than 0.7 metres, and of 20 layers is less than 0.25 metres. The orderliness of the layers is good, the dip is slightly sloping (up to 10-12 degrees). According to composition and degree of metamorphism, the coals belong to the durain varieties with high and medium ash content, which are transitive from the long-flame to gas ones. According to preliminary estimates, the total reserves of hard coal within the deposit can reach several billion tonnes. Within the Transantarctic mountains, the thickness of the coal-bearing strata varies from the several tens to hundreds of metres, and the degree of the coal saturation of the sections varies from the very weak (rare thin lenses and the layers of the carbonaceous shales) to the very significant (from 5-7 to 15 layers within the range of the section of the thickness of 300-400 metres). The layers have subhorizontal bedding, and are well ordered along the strike; their thickness is, as a rule, from 0.5 to 3.0 metres, and reaches 6-7 metres within the unique bulges. The degree of metamorphism and the composition of the coals are analogous to those which are described above. There are noted within the isolated places the semi-anthracites and graphitized varieties, which are associated with the contact impact of doleritic intrusions. The gas manifestations within the boreholes on the coastal shelf of the Ross sea have been encountered within the interval of the depths from 45 to 265 metres below the surface of the seabed, and are represented by the traces of methane, ethane, and ethylene within the Neogene glacial-marine depositions. On the coastal shelf of the Weddell sea, the traces of the natural gas have been encountered within the single sample of the seabed depositions. Within the mountainous surrounding of the Weddell sea, within the rocks of the folded basement, there exist the epigenetic light bitumina in the form of the microscopic veins and nest-like clusters within the cracks.

Metallic useful minerals. The concentrations of iron are represented by the several genetic types, of which the largest clusters are associated with Proterozoic jaspilitic formation. The main jaspilitic deposition (deposit) has been unsealed within the over-ice outcrops of the Prince Charles mountains along the length of 1000 metres with the thickness of more than 350 metres; there may be found within the cross section also the less thick packs of jaspilites (from the fractions of the metre to 450 metres), which are separated by the horizons of the waste rock with the thickness of up to 300 metres. The content of the oxides of iron within the jaspilites ranges from 40% to 68% with predominance of the ferric oxides over ferrous oxides of 2.5-3.0 times. The quantity of silica ranges from 35% to 60%, the content of sulfur and phosphorus is low; there are noted as admixtures the copper, nickel, chromium, cobalt, manganese (up to 0.2%), and also titanium and zirconium (up to 0.01%). The aeromagnetic data testify about the continuation of the jaspilitic deposition under the ices for at least several tens of kilometres. Other manifestations of this formation are represented by the thin bedrock depositions (up to 5-6 metres) or by the moraine heaps of the ferruginous quartzites; the content of the oxides of iron within these manifestations varies from 20% to 55%.

The most significant manifestations of the metamorphogenous genesis are represented by the lenticular and nest-like almost monomineral clusters with the size of 1-2 metres with the content of magnetite of up to 90%, which are localized within the zones and horizons with the thickness of several tens of metres and with the length of up to 200-300 metres. Approximately the same dimensions are characteristic for the manifestations of the contact-metasomatic genesis, but this type of mineralization may be found less often. The manifestations of the magmatogenous and supergene genesis are rare and less than significant. The manifestations of the other ores of the ferrous metals are represented by the titanomagnetitic interspersion, which is sometimes accompanying the magmatogenous clusters of iron with thin manganese crusts and efflorescences within the zones of crushing of various plutonic rocks, and also by the interspersion and tiny nest-like clusters of chromite within the serpentinized dunites on the South Shetland islands. The increasing of concentration of chromium and titanium (up to 1%) have been revealed by the spectral analyses of the certain metamorphic and basic intrusive rocks.

Relatively large manifestations are characteristical for copper. The manifestations within the south-eastern zone of the Antarctic peninsula are of the greatest interest. They belong to the copper-porphyry type, and are characterized by the interspersed and veinous (less often by the nodular) distribution of the chalcopyrite, chalcocite, pyrite, pyrrhotite, and molybdenite, sometimes with the admixture of galenite and sphalerite. According to the data of the few analyses, the content of copper within the intrusive rocks does not exceed 0.02%, but within the most intensely mineralized rocks increases to 3.0%, where also exist according to the rough estimates up to 0.15% of Mo, 0.70% of Pb, 0.07% of Zn, 0.03% of Ag, 10% Fe, 0.07% of Bi, and 0.05% of W. There is noted on the western coast of the Antarctic peninsula the zone of manifestations of the pyritic (predominantly of the pyrite-chalcopyritic with admixture of gold and silver) and copper-molybdous (predominantly of the pyrite-chalcopyrite-molybdenitic with admixture of pyrrhotite) mineralization; however, the manifestations within this zone are poorly studied yet and are not characterized by the analyses. Within the basement of the Eastern Antarctic platform, within the zones of the hydrothermal processing, the most thick of which on the coast of the Sea of Cosmonauts have the thickness of up to 15-20 metres and the length of up to 150 metres, within the quartzous veins, there is developing itself the sulfidic mineralization of the veinous-interspersed type. The largest size of the ore phenocrysts, which are formed mainly of the chalcocite, chalcopyrite, and molybdenite, is 1.5-2.0 millimetres, and the content of the ore minerals within the most beneficiated places reaches 5-10%. Within such places, the content of copper increases up to 2.0% and of molybdenum up to 0.5%, but there may be found much more often the poor interspersion with traces of these elements (hundredth parts of the percent). Within the other regions of the craton, there are known the less extensive and thick zones of the breccias with mineralization of the analogous type, which is sometimes accompanied by the admixture of lead and zinc. Other manifestations of the metallic useful minerals are their slightly increased contents within the geochemical samples from the ore manifestations, which are described above, (as a rule, at most 8-10 Clarke number), and also the non-significant concentrations of the ore minerals, which are detected during the mineralographic research of the rocks and during the analysis of their heavy fraction. There produces visual clusters only beryl, the crystals of which with the size of at most 7-10 centimetres (most often 0.5-3.0 centimetres) are noted within the pegmatitic veins within several places of the Eastern Antarctic platform.

Of the non-metallic useful minerals, there may be found more often than others the rock crystal, the manifestations of which are associated predominantly with pegmatitic and quartzous veins within the basement of the craton. The largest sizes of the crystals are 10-20 centimetres in length. As a rule, the quartz is milky white or smoky; translucent or slightly murky crystals are rare and do not exceed 1-3 centimetres in size. The tiny transparent crystals of the rock crystal have been noted also within the amygdules and geodes of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic basaltoids within the mountainous border of the Weddell sea.

The prospects of identification and development of deposits of useful minerals are sharply limited by the extremal natural conditions of the region. This concerns primarily the feasibilities of detection of deposits of the hard useful minerals directly within the over-ice outcrops of the rocks; the negligible degree of their distribution diminishes by tens of times the probability of such discoveries in comparison with other mainlands, even with the condition of the detailed survey of all the hard rocky exposures, which are available within Antarctica. The only exception is the hard coal, the stratiform character of deposits of which among the non-dislocated depositions of cover causes their significant areal development, which increases the degree of exposure and accordingly the probability of detection of the coal layers. In principle, the identification of the subglacial clusters of certain types of useful minerals is possible with the help of the remote methods, but prospecting and exploration, and especially the exploitation works, in the presence of the thick stratum of the mainland ice, are not real yet. Construction materials and hard coal may be used within the limited extent for the local needs without the substantial costs for their extraction, transportation, and processing. There exist are prospects of the development within the foreseeable future of the potential resources of hydrocarbons on the Antarctic coastal shelf, but the technical means for the exploitation of deposits within the extremal climatic conditions, which are natural to the coastal shelf of the Antarctic seas, do not exist yet; yet more, there does not exist the geological-economical substantiation of the feasibility of the creation of such means, and of the profitability of development of deep of the land of Antarctica. There are no sufficient data also for the estimation of the expected impact of the exploration and development of the useful minerals onto the unique natural environment of Antarctica, and for the determination of tolerance of such activity from the ecological positions.

The international legal status of the southern polar region (to the south of the 60th parallel) is determined by the Antarctic Treaty, which has been signed in Washington on 1 December of 1959 and has entered into force on 23 June of 1961. The treaty is not limited in time. There have originally signed the Treaty the Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Great Britain, New Zealand, Norway, USSR, USA, France, Chile, South Africa, and Japan; later there joined to it the Poland, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Netherlands, Romania, East Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Uruguay, West Germany. 14 participants to the Treaty have the status of Consultative parties, that is of the countries, which have the right of participation in regular (every 2 years) consultative conferences on the Antarctic Treaty.

The objectives of the consultative conferences are the exchange of information, the discussion of the issues, which are associated with Antarctica and are representing the mutual interest, and also the undertaking of measures for the strengthening of the system of the Treaty and for the compliance with its objectives and principles. The most important of these principles, which are defining the great political importance of the Antarctic Treaty, are: the usage of Antarctica in perpetuity exclusively for peaceful purposes, and the prevention of its transformation into the arena or object of international discords; the prohibition of any activities of the military character, of the nuclear explosions, and of the dumping of the radioactive wastes; the freedom of the scientific researches within Antarctica, and the assistance to the development there of the international cooperation; the protection of the environment of Antarctica, and the preservation of its fauna and flora. At the boundary between the 1970s and 80s, within the limits of the system of the Antarctic Treaty, there has been started the development of the special political-legal regime (convention) on the mineral resources of Antarctica. It is necessary to regulate the activity on exploration and development of useful minerals of Antarctica in the case of industrial development of its deep of the land without the damage for the natural environment of Antarctica.