The Antarctic Plateau was originally named by its explorers:

  • Shackleton named it the King Edward VII Plateau, after the king of England.
  • Amundsen named it the King Haakon VII Plateau, after the king of Norway.

Usually the original names for Antarctic features have stuck, but this feature now has a different name. How did this happen? Who renamed it? When did the new name take hold?

1 Answer 1


Originally, there was a lot of confusion about Antarctic nomenclature, with many different countries making different claims and names at different times. For example, this is one notice from 1912:

The plateau around the South Pole was named by Amundsen after King Haakon VII. Sir Ernest Shackleton points out, very, very politely, that Amundsen must have done this inadvertently. Sir Ernest says, in commenting on the trip: “Here I would like to point out that Amundsen, in taking possession and in planting the flag at the South Pole and naming the plateau after King Haakon VII., must, I presume, be unaware of the fact that we, on our expedition, named the same plateau after King Edward VII., an error on his part in nomenclature which he will, no doubt, remedy when he is aware of the facts.

Amundsen replies, also very politely, that Sir Ernest is mistaken in supposing that his plateau is the one that holds the South Pole. The Edward VII. plateau and the King Haakon VII. plateau are not one and the same. The controversy may possibly develop into a bitter one, since the boundaries of each plateau must necessarily be unknown at the present time.

-- Current Literature, April, 1912

In 1928 Admiral Byrd started a series of explorations to remap the continent. He side-stepped the issue and simply labeled the area as the "Polar Plateau" on his maps. Later, by the time of the International Geophysical Year, it was realized that "Antarctic Plateau" was necessary because "Polar Plateau" is ambiguous (which pole?)

  • Since the other pole is covered by ocean it can hardly have a plateau around it.
    – Oldcat
    Jun 3, 2014 at 17:02
  • 1
    @Oldcat - Well, there are also the magnetic poles. They move around, but the south one, and occasionally the north one, are over land. Plus the word "polar" is often used as an adjective meaning "near the pole", rather than describing a specific spot.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 3, 2014 at 18:52
  • Oh these explorers! I can definitely see them getting to a very polite bout of fisticuffs over the matter... Jun 5, 2014 at 10:18

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