This month, WSP collaborated with Jasmax, Steensen Varming, Hugh Broughton and Antarctica New Zealand to identify the risks and safety precautions that are unique to Scott Base.
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Preparing for the worst…

Unsurprisingly, natural hazards pose the biggest risk for the remote Scott Base. Studies show that an earthquake originating in Mexico could be a likely cause of a tsunami that would impact the base.

WSP undertook a resilience evaluation and identified the potential for a tsunami to impact the base, particularly with it being located close to the shoreline.

Little was known about how tsunamis had affected Antarctica in the past, and no tsunami hazard study had been carried out previously for the Ross Sea region.

As a result, GNS was commissioned by Antarctica NZ to carry out a tsunami hazard study and evaluate the potential for this to impact Scott Base. WSP provided a brief for this work, and reviewed and commented on the findings of this study.

Aotearoa’s Antarctic outpost, Scott Base, set for multi-million-dollar redevelopment

The challenges of future technologies

Another of the identified challenges was predicting how the base could and should support advancement in scientific research.

For example, a key trend that is coming through is the increased use of automation in base operation and use of drones for research in the future.

This presents a challenge. How can we maintain simplicity while accommodating new and developing technology?

Our teams discussed the importance of keeping the flexibility of space in design to facilitate for the future potential for research, supporting New Zealand’s contribution to the international scientific community.

Technical Principal Building Structures, Jamie Lester oversees the structural, civil and Geotech aspects of the Scott Base redevelopment.

Below he answers our questions.

Q. There are a number of challenges unique to Scott Base – what experiences and projects did you call on? 

A: Working on other projects in remote locations such as Niue, and our prior experience at Scott Base has been invaluable for this unique project.
Also working in New Zealand with seismic design requirements and natural hazards has helped develop my engineering problem solving and understand the importance of cross-discipline collaboration.


Q: What features have been applied to the design that will support scientific developments?

A: Much of this has come from discussions with the science community, the users. Responses to future needs include using generous load allowances, regular structure and simple systems. It also includes planning for the use of more battery-operated equipment, remote monitoring and allowing preparation space to support science expeditions going larger distances.


Q: What’s next for Scott Base?

A: Currently the project is in between design stages, with Developed Design due to begin in the new year.

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