The database

This page provides details on The Frozen Assets soils database - what it contains, its provenance, how the data is structured and where to access it. The database is browseable via the Browse data page on this site, the following provides some technical information about the data that underpins it.




What is this data?

Soil science involves studying the formation and distribution of soil, and analysing its biological, chemical and physical properties to gain an understanding of its formation and how it interacts with wider systems. A major part of this process is carrying out soil surveys and soil sampling - which involves describing and analysing a particular site, and collecting small, representative portions of soil from specific locations for analysis both in the field and back in the laboratory. The data you can access and browse on this website are the analytical results from surveys that took place on expeditions to Antarctica between 1964 and 1999.

From each site surveyed, soil samples were collected, analysed, recorded and are now stored at the National Soils Archive

Fig. 1. Soil samples catalogued and stored at the National Soils Archive.

Each expedition would result in one or more sites being surveyed and each site could have one or more samples taken from it. Each sample could be divided into multiple parts, to allow for additional analyses of different base properties. 

Fig. 2. Soil samples ready for analysis.


The database

The analytical data from the expeditions is stored in an SQLite database file. It contains information about the sample sites, the locality, and the soil properties recorded at those sites. The database consists of fourteen tables. These tables are listed below with a brief summary of each, however more in depth metadata about the database can be found at Manaaki Whenua's Datastore along with the database itself.  

  • Trip

Data about the expeditions (trips) that took place from 1964 to 1999. Information such as the year in which the trip took place, the people involved, the Antarctic region that was visited and the reason for the trip being made.

  • Site_Description

Information describing the soil sites from which samples were taken, such as a description of land surface found at the site, the climate zone of the soil or a description of any weathering on the site.

  • Site_Location

Geographical information of the surveyed sites - including its latitude and longitude. 

  • Site_Temperature_Profile

Data about the soil temperature, and the depth at which it was measured.

  • Site_Sample

Supplementary information relating to what type of data is available for a site, such as solution chemistry or clay mineralogy.

  • Site_Soil_Profile

The site soil profile table is a combination of the soil layers belonging to or making up the soil horizons, and contains information such as the depth at which the soil layer starts and ends.

  • Site_Horizon

Information about the soil thickness (horizons) from which soil samples were collected during the surveys.

  • Horizon_Description

Description of the horizon that the soil sample was taken from. 

  • Solution_Chemistry

Information relating to the solution chemistry within horizons.

  • Particle_Size_Distribution

Particle size distribution information.   

  • Clay_Mineralogy

Information about clay mineralogy.

  • Fine_Earth_Gravimetric_Moisture

Information about the presence or absence of water within the layer of soil from which soil samples were collected.

  • Physical_Data

Additional analytical data about the soil samples.

  • Nsa_Record

Details about the samples kept in the National Soils Archive.



The SQLite database file and related metadata is downloadable from Manaaki Whenua's Datastore (doi: