FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show A Military Camp On Top Of A Giant Tree Stump In Antarctica?
An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a military camp built on top of a “giant tree stump” in Antarctica.
The image shows a South African research facility on an Antarctic nunatak, a rocky mountainous outcropping that protrudes from the snow.
In the image, several buildings can be seen on an outcrop surrounded and partially covered by snow. Text inside the image alleges the picture shows “Military Camps in Antartica (sic) On top of a giant tree stump,” along with a reference to the baseless flat-Earth conspiracy theory.
While Check Your Fact could not locate the origin of the photo in the Facebook post, the buildings match those of the South African National Antarctic Program’s (SANAP) SANAE IV research station. Other photos of the SANAE IV station can be found on SANAP’s website. (RELATED: Did Gen. David Petraeus Author This Essay About The Military?)
The station is located on a rocky cliff in Antarctica called Vesleskarvet, a “nunatak which is a rocky outcrop peeping out of a snowy surface,” SANAP explains on its website. On Google Maps, it is clear Vesleskarvet does not closely resemble a “giant tree stump.” Research conducted at the SANAE IV station includes “physical sciences, earth sciences, life sciences and oceanographic sciences,” according to SANAP’s website.
The Antarctic Treaty prohibits “any measures of a military nature, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military maneuvers, as well as the testing of any type of weapons,” an archive U.S. Department of State webpage states. The treaty does allow the use of military personnel and equipment for “scientific research” or “any other peaceful purposes,” according to the State Department webpage.
There are 70 research bases in Antarctica as of December 2020, Business Insider reported. The continent’s first cases of COVID-19 were reported at a Chilean research base that month, according to EuroNews.