Launched: 27 December 2004. Last updated: 23 December 2007

Accessed at least many times since 30 July 2007.

Maps of Antarctica. Described by R. V. Tooley and illustrated


It used to be easy to track down and buy charts of Antarctica from the US government, done the old way by phone and the postal service. With the advent of the Web, you'd think it would be easier. Not necessarily. It's not always that easy to figure out what chart you want, what information is included, how much it costs and how you purchase it. This hit home recently when a friend asked me where he could get a good chart of the Antarctic Peninsula. I had one that I thought might suit his purposes (Chart 29002, scale 1:1,500,000). To find the government agency where this chart and similar ones could be procured was not an easy task. The Defense Mapping Agency that produced the chart is now the National Imagery and Mapping Agency which apparently is part of the US Geological Survey. NOAA figures in here, too. When I Googled 'National Imagery and Mapping Agency,' the first relevant hit was This takes you to a site entitled: National Imagery and Mapping Agency. Catalog of Public Sale Topographic Maps, Publications and Digital Products. Down near the bottom of this page is a section entitled: Aeronautical and Nautical Charts and Publications. It reads in part: "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Ocean Service (NOAA/NOS) produces charts and publications primarily of United States airspace and waterways. NIMA produces charts and publications primarily of areas outside the United States. Both NOAA/NOS and NIMA produced products are now available from NOAA/NOS Aeronautical and Chart Sales Agents located worldwide or from the NOAA/NOS address shown below:
NOAA Distribution Division (N/ACC33)
National Ocean Service
6501 Lafayette Avenue
Riverdale, MD 20737-1199
Phone: 302-436-6990 or 1-800-638-8972
As I was having difficulty finding an index map showing available maps and charts of Antarctica, I called the toll-free number above. Oddly, it turned out to be a Federal Aviation Administration facility. But it was nonetheless the right place. I was directed to the NACO site, the Public Online Ordering Website of the National Aeronautical Charting Office, at At this site I was told by the woman who answered the phone at the FAA to go to the lower left corner under "DOD Products" and click on "Catalogs." This I did. A world map comes up and there, under Region 2, is South and Central America, the Caribbean and Antarctica. When I clicked on "Region 2" a pdf catalog was downloaded. ( ). Scrolling down this multi-page catalog you will find Antarctic charts on pages 42 through 49. The individual charts are shown on an index map and in a table the following is given: Stock Number, Title, and Scale. In all, 38 separate charts are listed. What would be helpful but is missing is such additional information as sheet size and date (actually when you come to order a chart online the edition date is given). What would really be helpful is to include a digital image of each chart.

So where does one go now? No prices are given in the catalog and no details on ordering. Going back to the previous page at, and again to the lower left, this time clicking on "Nautical Coastal Charts" under "DOD Products." This brings up the same world index map as before. Click on the phrase "Nautical Coastal Charts" near the bottom of the page. There then appears a subcategory of places (largely arranged not in alphabetical or geographical order). There is no listing for Antarctica per se. But there are listings for "South Shetland Islands" which lists one Antarctic chart; "South Atlantic Ocean" which lists many charts including three Antarctic ones (which you wouldn't expect to be listed here at all); "Drake Passage" which lists two charts, both Antarctic; "Weddell Sea" which lists eight charts, all Antarctic; "South Pacific Ocean" which lists many charts including three Antarctic ones (which, as with South Atlantic, you wouldn't expect to be listed here at all); "Bellinghausen [sic] Sea" which lists two charts, both Antarctic; and "Ross Sea" which lists two charts, both Antarctic. And that's it. The other 17 Antarctic charts don't appear to be listed. In the upper right of each page is a Product Search option. Entering the chart name or number will bring up those that can't be found in the subcategory listing.

So what happens next? Click on any chart you might wish to purchase and a window appears with the chart title, Product ID number, edition date and the price (most seem to be $20.25). There's an "add to cart" option which when clicked gives you the option of ordering additional titles or proceeding to checkout. For first-time purchasers you must create a user id before you can proceed further. (On this page there is information on how to contact the the FAA distribution center including an e-mail address and toll-free phone number.) Creating an account is easy enough: name, address, phone and e-mail. You pick a user ID and a password. Charts are sold postpaid. And your order can be paid by using most credit cards.

—R. Stephenson
(23 December 2007)


As far as I can tell, the chief, perhaps only source of paper Antarctic maps (as opposed to charts) produced by the US Government is the USGS (United States Geological Survey) and its retail agents. Its "Antarctica Maps List" is available at About 165 maps are listed by Stock Number, Map Name and Scale, broken down by Topographic Reconnaissance Maps (1:250,000), Geologic Reconnaissance Maps (1:250,000), Topographic Maps (various scales), Sketch Maps (1:500,000), Satellite Image Maps (various scales but mostly 1:250,000) and Photoimage Maps (various scales). What's apparently not available online are index maps showing the coverage of specific maps. Prices are not given on the "Antarctica Maps List" which only says "refer to the U.S. Geological Survey Maps Price List for the most recent prices." When one looks at that (also available at the above site), it has Antarctica maps under "Topographic, Image and Related Maps) with a price of $7 per sheet. Antarctic Geologic Maps listed under "Thematic Maps" are also $7 per sheet. An order form is available at the above site. For every order there is a $5 handling charge. Payment can be made by credit card. A toll-free number appears on the order form for assistance. It doesn't say but presumably one can order maps by using this number.

Maps may also be ordered online through the USGS Store at Click "Enter USGS Store" at the left of the page. Under "Product Lines" on the left, go to "By Coverage Area" and click "Maps of the Continents." Once there, click on "Antarctica." A list of 46 maps will appear, listed by Number, Name and Price. The Number is linked to information about the map (name, various numbers and dates, language, etc., scale not being among them). One can add any of the maps to a shopping basket. As with ordering charts above, one must create an account with a password. Payment can be made by credit card.

Comparing the titles of the maps listed on the USGS Store site with those listed in the "Antarctica Maps List," one sees some similarity but the numbers are different. Are the maps the same, one wonders? For example, is "No 39244 Vinson Massif" on the USGS Store site the same as "No AN0112 Vinson Massif" on the "Antarctica Maps List." Indeed they are but one only can learn that by clicking on the Number on the USGS Store site which brings up the link that says this map had an "Old Material #" of AN0112. In order words, all the numbers have been changed since the "Antarctica Maps List" was compiled, making it now largely useless.

There are maps listed in one source that are not listed in the other. But if one enters the "Map Name" from the "Antarctica Maps List" into the "Product Name" box in the "Search for USGS products," and clicks "Start Search," you will get information on that map.

On the USGS Store homepage, just above "Maps of the Continents" is the category "Foreign Maps & Books." Click that and you will see on the left a listing of places including "Antarctica." Click that and a listing of about 200 maps will come up, arranged alphabetically by name. (This is in the same format of the listing one gets when one goes to Antarctica under "Maps of the Continents.") As best I can tell, this listing includes all of the maps and more that are included in the "Antarctica Maps List," meaning (as it is more up-to-date with newer, current map numbers) is the one to use, particularly if you want to order online. (This same listing comes up if you click Antarctica under "Other Maps" under the "By Type (Series)" section on the left side.) In nearly all instances the maps listed are priced at $7 (plus $5 per order).

Despite spending an inordinate amount of time searching through the USGS site, I've yet to find an index map of available Antarctic maps, either an index that can be consulted online or a paper copy that can be ordered. These were certainly once issued—the most recent one that I have is from 1987. It's a large folded map with each available map clearly delineated.

—R. Stephenson
(23 December 2007)


In the UK navigational charts are produced by the Hydrographic Office which is in the Ministry of Defence. Its website seems easier to navigate than the US ones above. The most direct way to see what Antarctic charts are available is to go to the listing on the left and click "UKHO Online Catalogue." Next click "Leisure Charts." Then "Standard Navigational and Other" under Paper Charts. You now have a choice how you wish to proceed in your 'Browse and Search.' In our case the easiest probably is "Search by Admiralty Folio" because all HO Antarctic charts are in one of three folios: 96, 97 and 100. Clicking on the little blue i to the right of the Folio number will bring you to a listing of that Folio. No 96 includes the Falklands and South Georgia as well as parts of South America. 56 charts are listed and more than half of them are Antarctic relevant. The listing of each Folio gives for each chart its Number, Type (all SNC, Standard Nautical Chart) and Title as well as its "Int", which doesn't seem to be defined anywhere. To the right are three icons, the first two being of interest: The blue i gives one information on the chart (date, scale, sheet size, long/lat of coverage, etc. The second icon when clicked brings up a thumbnail view of the chart in question, a very helpful option that is lacking in the USGS and NACO sites. Folio 97 lists 38 charts, most of which are Antarctic relevant. Folio 100 lists 12 charts, all of which are Antarctic relevant.

Prices for all the Antarctic relevant charts are given as £19.70. Admiralty charts are sold through distributors which are listed at and through the HO's Admiralty Web Shop at Although one can find an Antarctic section on this site, it doesn't seem to include all the charts listed in the three Folios. However, there is a "Find Product" box at the top of each page and by entering the chart number, it will come up. You can then click on the shopping cart icon and add that chart to your "Kit Bag." You can then check out after setting up an account. I didn't go far enough to learn whether the Admiralty Web Shop will ship worldwide or what its shipping charges are.

—R. Stephenson
(23 December 2007)


The British Antarctic Survey is the government agency in the UK that, among other things, produces and distributes maps covering areas in the Antarctic. Go to to see five options listed under "Antarctic related mapping resources:": • Map Listing - a selection of maps published by BAS, with ordering information • Antarctic Digital Database (ADD) - the premier source of vector topographic data for Antarctica • British Antarctic Territory Gazetteer - list of all approved names for British use within the British Antarctic Territory • SCAR Geoscience map catalogue - a listing of all geoscientific maps of Antarctica • SCAR Map Catalogue - catalogue of Antarctic region maps.

Under the first category (Map Listing), 12 maps are listed and described with title, scale, year, sheet size, description and a thumbnail image. The second, third and fourth categories are of marginal interest to us at the moment, but the fifth and final one is worth a look. Clicking this takes you to the Australian Antarctic Data Centre which hosts a SCAR Map Catalogue of "Antarctic region maps produced by SCAR member countries." There's too much here to focus on at the moment but perhaps another time. Back to the first category: Any of the 12 maps listed may be ordered from the BAS website which directs you to the site of Edward Stanford Ltd. in London, probably the world's largest mapseller. Once at the Stanford site, type in "Antarctica" in the search box in the upper left corner. This will take you to listings of both books and maps, including those published by BAS. BAS maps other than the 12 listed in the Map Listing on the BAS site are also available from Stanfords. These include among others such series as 250K Satellite Image Maps (7 titles), 250K Topographic Maps (6 titles), 10K Topographic Maps (DOS 210 Series) (3 titles), 200K Maps (DOS 601/610/D501 Series) (10 titles), 25K Topographic Maps (DOS 310 Series) (5 titles), 500K Topographic Maps (DOS 710 Series) (4 titles), BAS 500K Geoscience Maps (6 titles), BAS 500P (1 title). These are described on the Stanford's site and there is an index map at

—R. Stephenson
(23 December 2007)


Bob Headland e-mails to say:
The British Antarctic Survey has produced a new map showing both polar regions (one on each side). Both are at 1:10 000 000 and extend to 60 degrees N and S forming a matched pair. The Antarctic one is a revision of the one they have issued at various times for at least a decade. The Arctic one is new and, in my opinion, very well done with land, ocean, and ice features shown.

The 'preferred reference' is: British Antarctic Survey and International Polar Year, 2007. 'The Arctic and Antarctica', 1:10 000 000 scale map. Series BAS (IPY) Sheet 1. Cambridge, British Antarctic Survey.

It is about 1 m by 85 cm. You will need to buy two to show each side if using it as a wall display.

The only comparable matched pairs of Arctic and Antarctic maps that I know of are the GEBCO and British Hydrographic ones, both of which are essentially maritime.

Some of you may already know of these new maps - but better to be told twice than miss the information. They may be ordered direct from BAS or, for smaller numbers, from the SPRI Museum Shop (which is still awaiting delivery of stock). The unit cost will be GBP 8.50 with post and packing extra (they are available rolled or folded, depending on how much one trusts the Post Office).

(30 July 2007)