Mr Vin Morgan has made an outstanding contribution to Australian Antarctic science, particularly in palaeoenvironmental research on ice cores and in developments in ice core drilling technology.

In 1969 Mr Morgan established the Antarctic Division’s mass spectrometer laboratory. The laboratory, which measures a vital indicator of past climatic temperatures, remains one of the key components of the Glaciology Program. A paper by Mr Morgan, based on data from the mass spectrometer facility, established that the bottom of the Amery Ice Shelf consisted of frozen sea water rather than continental ice. This is still the subject of international research projects.

Mr Morgan has also made important contributions to the Antarctic Division’s ice sheet mass balance research by participating in oversnow traverses and aerial operations in the Southern Prince Charles Mountains and Enderby Land. He redesigned and fabricated a new generation of ice depth radars at that time, and was responsible for a large percentage of the ice thickness sounding in these areas. He also performed similar work, under difficult living and working conditions, on the Soviet Mirny to Dome C traverse in the summer of 1978–79.

In the 1980s Mr Morgan took over coordination of a major project within the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) Glaciology Program: Deep Ice Core Drilling and Analysis. This included supervision of the design and fabrication of a new Australian electro-mechanical drill. The drill, with its advanced software and electronic and mechanical componentry, is capable of obtaining a higher quality of ice core and of drilling much deeper through the Antarctic icecap than its thermal predecessor.

Use of the new equipment under Mr Morgan’s supervision resulted in the most successful ice drilling program ever conducted by an Australian team. The drill reached bedrock at a depth of 1200 m in the summer of 1992–93. Only United States and Soviet glaciology teams have drilled deeper in Antarctica.