Four types of zone are established within the ASMA to manage multiple uses and activities:
The Operational Zone was established to help manage and contain human activities occurring close to the South Pole, including science support, main station services (e.g. living facilities), ski-way operations, and tourism. Scientific activities may be conducted in the Operational Zone if they will not be in conflict with operational activities.
Management activities in the Operational Zone include waste management, adoption of standard operating procedures, contingency planning for emergencies, and the coordination of new construction or installations to minimize impacts on scientific activities.
The Scientific Zone extends from the Operational Zone at Amundsen-Scott Station to the outer ASMA boundary (Map 1) and is established to protect certain types of scientific research from disturbance. Of particular concern are interference from sound, light, vibration, electro-magnetic radiation, air pollution, snow drifting, and visual obstruction. Amundsen-Scott Station has been designed so that sensitive scientific activities and instruments are strategically located away from operations that may cause interference.
The Scientific Zone has been divided into the Sectors (Map 2) listed below to address management needs for different types of science. Specific guidelines apply to activities within these Sectors (defined in the Management Plan), including entry conditions, which aim to ensure that the sensitive studies not subjected to undue interference.
- Clean Air Sector – ensures a pristine air- and snow-sampling environment for climate systems research;
- Quiet Sector – activities and equipment emitting noise or vibration are limited to enable seismologic research and other vibration-sensitive pursuits;
- Downwind Sector – no obstructions are allowed, to provide an area suitable for balloon launches, aircraft operations, and other "downwind" activities;
- Dark Sector - light pollution and electromagnetic noise are minimized to assist astronomical and astrophysical research.
Located within the Operational Zone, the Historic Zone encompasses sites designated for their historic value. Management of this Zone aims to recognize and protect the values of each historic site while allowing visitor access to the Zone. The Historic Zone includes the site of the Ceremonial South Pole located close to the Geographic South Pole. Historic Site and Monument (HSM) No.1 (a flag mast erected in December 1965 at the Geographical South Pole by the first Argentine Overland Polar Expedition), HSM No.80 (Amundsen’s tent), and other relics from 1911-12 Antarctic expeditions are located within the ASMA, although are now buried in the moving ice some distance from the Pole and their precise locations and depth are unknown. Searching for and/or removal of relics is strictly prohibited within this Zone unless authorization is received from an appropriate authority such as one of the Antarctic Treaty Parties.
There are no restrictions on visits to the Historic Zone. However visitors must abide by guidelines in the management plan and take all appropriate safety precautions.
Designated to safeguard hazardous sites found in and around the original (1957) South Pole Station ('Old Pole'), and in critical aircraft operations areas. For safety reasons, entry to the Hazardous Zones is prohibited at all times, except for essential management activities. Map 4 shows the location of the Hazardous Zones.
A small semi-circular area extending 50 m (150 ft) downwind of the Atmospheric Research Observatory (ARO) into which vehicle access is prohibited unless authorization is given by the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station Manager. Map 4 shows the location of the De-motorized Zone.