In 1947, during US Navy expedition (1947) under Adm. Richard E. Byrd’s command, Lt Cdr David E. Bunger discovered an oasis free of ice and snow, with an area of about 1000 km2, exhibiting a substantial surface of Antarctica’s rocky basement.
Nine years later, at the shore of the Algae (Figurnoje) Lake, USSR built a permanent station named Oasis. In 1958 the station, consisting of two wooden houses ca. 20 m2 each and a few smaller buildings, was handed over to Poland (formally in December 1958, technically in January 1959). The station was named after a Polish geophysicist, meteorologist and polar explorer, Prof. Antoni B. Dobrowolski.
In subsequent years Poland organized, with the logistical support of the Soviet Antarctic Expedition (SAE), three research expeditions, lasting several weeks each, which resulted in a number of scientific publications reporting on basic parameters of geophysical potential fields and meteorology. In 1987, some 200 m west of the Dobrowolski Station, SAE built several new buildings, and named them Oasis-2. Since then the Dobrowolski Station remained in hibernation, and was only sporadically visited by various teams (recently: the Australian Antarctic Division in 2010 and in the 2013/2014 season), and the Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in 2007/2008 (53. Russian Antarctic Expedition).
From 2016 to the present, in the area of the Russian Oasis-2 Station, the Russian Polar Marine Geosurvey Expedition (PMGE) conducts geological research with the logistical support of the Russian Antarctic Expedition.
In the area or near the Polish Dobrowolski Station there are two objects included on the list of Historical Sites and Monuments in Antarctica (HSM): No. 49 – “Bunger Hill Pillar” and No. 10 – “Oasis Station Observatory”. In addition, on the basalt rock opposite the station there is a symbolic plaque commemorating the first year of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.
The buildings of station are in fairly good condition. It is necessary to perform certain works related to their renovation and fieldwork organisation.
Bunger Hills are a promising area not only for geophysical and geological, but also for biological and geomorphological studies. All scientific areas are still not fully covered.
The return of Polish scientists to East Antarctica will open new possibilities for geophysical and geological research, enabling a better understanding of the structure and history of the Earth and modern processes shaping Antarctica’s rocky oases.
Above: Polish Academy of Sciences Antarctic Expedition to Dobrowolski Station 1978/1979