Earthquakes occur in Antarctica. The previously held notion that Antarctica is essentially aseismic has been disproved by using records from established Global Seismic Network stations and recently deployed temporary stations on the Antarctic continent. However, the seismicity observed in Antarctica is very low in comparison with other continental intraplate regions. This contribution critically reviews magnitude threshold levels for recorded earthquakes and the available earthquake hypo-center data for Antarctica and the surrounding oceans. Patterns are identified in the distribution of Antarctic earthquakes and the deformation of the Antarctic plate, and the interplay between tectonic and ice-related forces controlling this distribution is discussed.
In the continental intraplate region of Antarctica, earthquakes occur in three settings. Two are likely to have distributions with a tectonic control (although the level may be suppressed by ice cover)—those in the Transantarctic Mountains and scattered events in the interior. Finally, seismicity in the coastal zone and continental margin is likely to be most strongly controlled by the interaction between glacial isostatic adjustment and lithospheric thickness, with a regional tectonic component in some locations.