Environmental factors influencing microbial growth inside the historic expedition huts of Ross Island, Antarctica

B. W. Held, J. A. Jurgens, B. E. Arenz, S. M. Duncan, R. L. Farrell, R. A. Blanchette

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36 Scopus citations


Explorers to Antarctica during the Heroic Era of exploration built three wooden huts on Ross Island, Antarctica in 1902, 1908 and 1911. The structures were used as bases of operation while their occupants participated in scientific endeavors and strived to reach the South Pole. The huts, and the thousands of artifacts in and around them, have survived in the Antarctic environment for 9-10 decades, but deterioration has taken place. The successful preservation of these important historic structures and materials requires information on the agents causing deterioration and factors that influence microbial growth. Temperature and relative humidity (RH) were monitored in the expedition huts for several years. During the austral summer months of December and January it was common for temperatures to rise above 0°C and RH to exceed 80%. Extensive fungal growth was observed on wood and artifacts within the Cape Evans hut, and fungi isolated were identified as species of Cladosporium, Penicillium, Cadophora, Geomyces and Hormonema. The factors that influence RH within the huts and methods to control moisture and arrest microbial growth are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-53
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Biodeterioration and Biodegradation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Antarctica
  • Fungi
  • Historic huts
  • Relative humidity
  • Temperature


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