Mawson, Sir Douglas, 1882–1958, Australian antarctic explorer and geologist, b. England. His first geographical expedition was to the New Hebrides Islands as a geologist in 1903. As a member of the scientific staff of Sir Ernest Shackleton's south polar expedition (1907–9), Mawson took part in the famous ascent of Mt. Erebus and the journey to the south magnetic pole. From 1911 to 1914 he commanded the Australian antarctic expedition; he studied the antarctic coast W of Cape Adare, spent two winters in Adélie Land (now Adélie Coast), and discovered King George V Land (now George V Coast), while a subordinate party discovered and explored Queen Mary Land (now Queen Mary Coast). On this trip Mawson's two companions died, and he was barely able to save himself. His Home of the Blizzard (1915) describes these explorations. In 1920 he became professor of geology and mineralogy at the Univ. of Adelaide. As commander of the British, Australian, and New Zealand antarctic expedition (1929–30), he revisited Enderby Land, not seen since its reported discovery a century earlier, and discovered MacRobertson Coast. Using a seaplane in conjunction with his ship, he made many short flights; in the course of this expedition, Mawson charted over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) of previously unknown antarctic coast and recharted c.1,500 mi (2,400 km) of vaguely known coasts. In his three trips between 1907 and 1931, Mawson claimed 2,225,000 sq mi (5,762,750 sq km) of antarctic territory for Australia. In recognition of his accomplishments he received the King's Polar Medal. He wrote many scientific papers.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Geography: Biographies