Toponymic Guidelines for Antarctica

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Toponymic Guidelines for Antarctica
by Lyubomir Ivanov




Adopted on 2 March 1995


In Antarctica geographical names are important elements of
identification, orientation, localization and navigation, providing an
essential reference system for logistic operations, including search and
rescue measures, and for international scientific research. They facilitate
information exchange in the field, in scientific publications and in
administrative measures under the Antarctic Treaty System. Geographical
names also reflect the history of Antarctic exploration. The principles and
procedures for naming geographical features in Antarctica formulated

(1) Are applied to land and subglacial features, ice shelves, and
inshore features of the continental shelf south of 60º S;
(2) Should be followed on maps, in publications, in databases etc;
(3) Relate to Bulgarian place names and their Romanization;
(4) Are based on established practices in Antarctic place naming, and
incorporate elaborations of the SCAR Work Programme on Antarctic
place names.


A geographical name primarily serves to distinguish the feature from all
others; it should be unique in Antarctica. The principal purpose of a name
is to supply effective and appropriate means of identifying the feature
beyond doubt; commemoration of persons or events is a secondary
consideration. New names are assigned to Antarctic features if it is of
necessity in the course of research or field work, or for navigation, or if
they have become well established.


A geographical name normally consists of a generic element defining the
topographic feature class (bay, mount, glacier etc.) and a specific element
distinguishing it from geographical names of the same class. The generic
element might be omitted with the definite article used instead.

A grouping into the following three feature categories is useful when
determining the appropriateness of new names for Antarctic features.

First order features:

(1) Regions or lands
(2) Coasts
(3) Extensive mountain ranges, plateaus
(4) Ice shelves, large glaciers
(5) Extensive sub-glacial mountains or valleys

Second order features:

(1) Peninsulas
(2) Mountain ranges
(3) Great or prominent mountains
(4) Glaciers
(5) Prominent capes
(6) Islands, ice rises
(7) Gulfs, large bays, harbours
(8) Straits or passages
(9) Sub-glacial ridges or valleys

Third order features:

(1) Minor mountains or hills, nunataks, cliffs, rocks
(2) Minor glaciers
(3) Lakes, streams
(4) Minor shore features, beaches, points, minor capes
(5) Minor bays, coves
(6) Parts of such features

Features having special significance or prominence in geographic
discovery, scientific investigation, or the history of Antarctica may be
placed in the next higher category than their size would warrant.


Non-personal names applied to Antarctic features include:

(1) Names of national or international geography or culture;
(2) Names that commemorate events related to Antarctic exploration;
(3) Names that commemorate organizations involved directly or
indirectly in carrying out, organization or funding of Antarctic research;
(4) Names of ships, aircraft or vehicles operating in Antarctica;
(5) Names related to Antarctic science and scientific work;
(6) Names descriptive of shape, colour etc. provided that they are not
too general a description.

Because Antarctica has been unveiled through the efforts of explorers,
scientists, and others, it has become a common practice to apply the
names of such persons to Antarctic features. Personal names applied to
Antarctic features include:

(1) Names of leaders or organizers of expeditions to Antarctica, leaders
of field parties and ship captains, members of expeditions, who have
made outstanding contribution to the success of an expedition;
(2) Names of persons who have made outstanding discoveries in
Antarctica or, through their work with Antarctic expeditions, have made
outstanding contributions to scientific knowledge or to the techniques of
Antarctic exploration;
(3) Names of persons who have made important contributions in the
planning, organization, outfitting, or operation of expeditions to Antarctica;
(4) Names of persons who have provided major financial or material
support to an expedition, or otherwise have contributed to Antarctic

The type of personal contribution should generally be proportional to the
magnitude category of the named feature.


Names in the following categories are considered to be inappropriate and
normally will not be considered, unless otherwise appropriate according to
the principles stated herein:

(1) Names in low taste, commonplace or of obscure or private origin,
including names suggesting a relationship or friendship;
(2) Names of pets or of commercial products;
(3) Names of contributors of funds, equipment, and supplies, who by
means of their advertising have endeavored to gain commercial
advantage as a result of their donations. This would not include
advantages which result from testing of donated equipment under
Antarctic conditions;
(4) Descriptive names which are ambiguous, likely to have duplicates, or
not particularly appropriate;
(5) Personal names combining both the given and the family name, or a
given name only. Given names might be acceptable in unusual situations,
or to avoid the application of identical toponyms;
(6) Names containing two generic terms, or a title, or an acronym.


Name proposals will be considered by the Antarctic Place-names
Commission with regard to the following criteria:

(1) Chronological priority of discovery, possible naming of the feature by
an expedition leader, or other relevant action;
(2) Importance of the feature in the course of research or field work, or
for navigation;
(3) Correspondence between contribution of a person or organization
and the category of the named feature;
(4) Brevity, easy pronunciation, and euphony of the proposed name;
(5) Extent to which usage has become established.

Names of geographical origin may be applied to features of a different
topographic feature class.

Proposed names with unsuitable generics may be considered for approval
with their generic terms modified by the Commission.

Usage considered sufficiently fixed or unanimous may be accepted as
valid grounds for approval of a name that otherwise would not qualify.


Names are approved in their Bulgarian language forms using Cyrillic
script, together with Roman spelling versions obtained as outlined herein.
Generic elements of names will normally be translated into one of the
official Antarctic Treaty languages which use Roman script (English,
French, Spanish), with specific elements correspondingly Romanized.
Definite articles of place names which contain no generic elements may
be dropped in the process with generics added instead. In the case of
English language, conversion of Bulgarian names to Roman spelling is
based on the following graphemic correspondences scheme:*

А – A Б – B В – V Г – G Д – D Е – E Ж – ZH З – Z И – I Й – Y
К – K Л – L М – M Н – N О – O П – P Р – R С – S Т – T У – U
Ф – F Х – H Ц – TS Ч – CH Ш – SH Щ – SHT Ъ – A Ь – Y Ю – YU Я – YA

However, authentic Roman spellings of names of non-Bulgarian origin,
and traditional Roman spellings which exist for few Bulgarian names will
have priority.


Proposals for new names should be submitted to the Antarctic Place-
names Commission for approval, accompanied by full information about
the name, the reasons for its choice, and a clear description of the
feature. This should include:

Proposed name form;
Co-ordinates and elevation of midpoint or summit, or of extremities if
extended feature;
Distance and direction from associated named or unnamed features;
topographic feature class;
Feature characteristics (shape, dimensions, total relief, steepness etc.);
Photo reference (vertical, oblique, satellite image etc.);
Map reference (title, scale, year of publication);
Reason for the choice of name;
Date of discovery, recording, mapping etc. and by whom (expedition or
field party);
Particulars to specific element of the name (if an honoree, degree of
association with the feature);
Name and address of the proposer.

Appropriate international co-ordination should be maintained to provide
relevant comments and information before decisions on new names are
made. Names already approved by the Commission might be changed in
exceptional situations: to eliminate confusion or ambiguity, to standardize
spelling, or to streamline name forms that are unnecessarily long or
otherwise inconvenient. If a place name is withdrawn in favour of another
one, then its possible transfer to a new feature may be considered.
Proposed names should not be used officially until their formal approval.

Sofia, March 2, 1995

* Subsequently, this transliteration system has been promulgated for
wider usage by the Bulgarian Government Ordinances # 61 of 2 April 1999
and # 10 of 11 February 2000, and by the 2009 Transliteration Law.
Adopted also by UN in 2012 and, for official US and UK use, by BGN and
PCGN in 2013.

© APC-BG: Released into Public Domain

The Original 1995 Document

Toponymic Guidelines for Antarctica   (p. 1)
Toponymic Guidelines for Antarctica   (p. 2)
Toponymic Guidelines for Antarctica   (p. 3)
Toponymic Guidelines for Antarctica   (p. 4)

This work is in the public domain worldwide because it has been so released by the copyright holder.