Antarctica Discounts
Home I Antarctic I Cape Horn I Arctic I Our Products I Contact

Cape Horn, Patagonia voyages, Tierra Del Fuego, Flights to Antarctica, Cruises to South Georgia and Antarctica, three hundred pages of Information on culture, history, fauna, flora, anthropology, geography, arqueology, Chile facts, kayaking, Ice Diving, whale watching, trekking and introducing:
Ultimate Adventures You Will Never forget

Andes Condor Cape Horn Wind Bent Beech Schooner  VICTORY Captain Ben

Expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia,
Cape Horn,
Falklands & Tierra Del Fuego

On this virtual tour you may see:
Majestic mountains dipped in snow...
Crystalline waterways...
Whales, seals, Soaring Andes condors...
Ice-blue Glaciers that shimmer like jewels..

Chile is one of seven countries worldwide, from both the northern and southern hemispheres, to claim a portion of Antarctica as national territory. Nonetheless, a treaty signed in 1959 protects the continent and its outlying islands from mineral exploitation and arms testing, and indefinitely suspends all formal discussion of ownership.

The Antarctic Peninsula, which stretches north like a finger towards Cape Horn, is the northernmost and consequently warmest portion of the continent. Nine countries have research stations on the Antarctic Peninsula and its outlying islands, and most tours focus upon this area.

Geologically and biotically, the Antarctic Peninsula is closely linked with southernmost continental Chile. South America and Antarctica were neighbors on the ancient continent of Gondwanaland until some 27 million years ago, when the formation of the Drake Passage definitively separated the two continents. Antarctic plant fossils from the Pliocene indicate the presence of a temperate ecosystem similar to that of southern Patagonia.

Today, some 91% of the world's freshwater reserves are contained in Antarctic ice, which averages 6500 feet deep and in places reaches over 13,000 feet. Flowing from the center of the continent to its edges, the ice forms huge shelves which extend for miles into the surrounding ocean. Cruise ships pass along the leading edge of these shelves and treat visitors to the spectacle of huge chunks of ice 'calving' off these 150-foot high walls of ice.

Though Antarctic terrestrial flora is limited to numerous species of lichens, mosses, and fungi, this lack of floral diversity is contrasted by the hugely productive and entirely unique Antarctic marine ecosystem. Annual production of krill in these waters averages 200-600 million tons, and upon this vast resource depends nearly every higher species of marine fauna. Blue whales - one of a dozen migratory whales to visit Antarctica -- scoop up krill in unfathomable quantities, while six species of seals, some 100 million individual penguins belonging to seven separate species, and 30 species of migratory birds all feed on fish which, in turn, feed on krill.Research indicates that krill production has declined in recent years, and in 1991 it was reported that the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica had reached some 13 million square kilometers. Though protected by international treaty, the southern continent is proving to be the most fragile of all.

Today, a growing variety of Antarctic tourist services allow modern adventurers to follow in the footsteps of great explorers such as Cook and Shackleton, Amundson and Scott.
Maritime cruises and expeditions by yacht: (see victory-cruises web pages)
and scenic flights departing from Punta Arenas continue to be the most common means of visiting Antarctica, though mountaineering trips and overnight visits to Chile's research bases and the civilian settlement at Villa las Estrellas, King George Island are increasingly available by airplane:
The frozen continent - the wildest and least understood of all -- has never been closer or more accessible.


Antarctic scientific investigation,
Wintering stations, information,
Antarctic whales and landscapes:

Scientific investigations

They have constituted a large part of the Antarctic expeditions since the earliest discovery voyages to Antarctica, but it was during the International Geophysical Year (IGY 1957-58) that research activity really became the focus of the expeditions. During the IGY twelve nations were involved in research programmes in Antarctica, and the number of research stations in Antarctica increased from 24 to over 40. Today there are 42 wintering scientific stations operated by 18 different countries. In addition to the wintering stations there are a large number of summer stations and field stations around the country. Most of the stations are concentrated to the Antarctic Peninsula and the nearby islands. On the South Shetland Islands alone there are 9 wintering stations.

List of wintering stations in Antarctica

Wintering Station



San Martin


6808’S, 6707’W



6214’S, 5840’W



6324’S, 5700’W



6414’S, 5637’W



6044’S, 4444’W

Belgrano II


7752’S, 3437’W



6736’S, 6252’E



6836’S, 7758’E



6618’S, 11032’E

Comandante Ferraz


6205’S, 5824’W

Capitan Arturo Prat


6230’S, 5941’W

Presidente Eduardo Frei


6212’S, 5858’W

General Bernardo O’Higgins


6319’S, 5754’W

Durmont d’Urville


6640’S, 14001’E



7046’S, 1144’E



6900’S, 3935’E

Dome Fuji


7719’S, 3942’E



6922’S, 7623’E

Great Wall


6213’S, 5858’W

King Sejong


6213’S, 5847’W

Scott Base

New Zealand

7751’S, 16645’E



6209’S, 5828’W



7046’S, 1150’E



6740’S, 4551’E



6633’S, 9301’E



6212’S, 5858’W


United Kingdom

6734’S, 6807’W


United Kingdom

7535’S, 2615’W



7141’S, 0250’W



7039’S, 0815’W



6515’S, 6416’W



6211’S, 5851’W


United States of America



United States of America

7751’S, 16640’W


United States of America

6446’S, 6403’W

Today 27 countries are actively involved in scientific investigations in Antarctica. Of these 27 only Bulgaria has yet not achieved consultative status (Bulgarian request for consultative status will most likely be evaluated at ATCM XXII).

There are approximately 4000 scientists and logistic personnel in Antarctica during the summer season, while during the winter this number is only 1000.

Antarctica Peninsula Sites, 1989 - 2001

As reported by tour operators to IAATO and NSF. Place names and coordinates are from Geographic Names of the Antarctic (1995) with the right column for general reference only. Abbreviations used: SSI - South Shetland Islands; SOI - South Orkney Islands;
KGI - King George Island.
* This list excludes active stations, which should be reported by base name.
* Use the following standard names for reporting sites where landings are made. In general, use the most specific appropriate name (landing site, anchorage or island)
* Please advise IAATO of corrections, additions, and especially of duplicate names.
* This list is not intended to account for non-specific geographic areas where Zodiac cruising may occur or where other activities such as helicopter flights and ice walks occur. Indicating bodies of water (e.g., Antarctic Sound, Admiralty Sound) does not help to identify frequency of visitation to sites and you should not add them to this list. Please continue to indicate these activities, however, on the Post-Visit report.
Place Name Coordinates Geographic Identifier
Aitcho Islands 62°24'S, 059°47'W English Strait. SSI
Alcock Island 64°14'S, 061°08'W Hughes Bay
Arago Glacier 64°51'S, 062°23'W Andvord Bay
Ardley Island 62°13'S, 058°56'W SW KGI, SSI
Argentine Island 65°15'S, 064°16'W Penola Strait
Astrolabe Island 63°17'S, 058°40'W Bransfield Strait
Baily Head 62°58'S, 060°30'W Deception Island, SSI
Barcroft Islands 66°27'S, 067°10'W Biscoe Islands
Bennett Islands 66°56'S, 067°40'W Hanusse Bay
Berthelot Islands 65°20'S, 064°09'W Grandidier Channel
Blaiklock Island 67°33'S, 067°04'W NE Marguerite Bay
Bongrain Point 67°43'S 067°48'W W side Pourquoi Pas Island
Brown Bluff 63°32'S, 056°55'W Tabarin Peninsula
Camp Point 67°58'S, 067°19'W Eastern Marguerite Bay
Challenger Island 64°21'S, 061°35'W Gerlache Strait
Charcot, Port 65°04'S, 064°00'W Booth Island
Christiania Islands 63°57'S, 061°27'W Between Liege & Trinity Is.
Christiania Islands (See Intercurrence Island)
Comb Ridge 65°55'S, 057°28'W Northern James Ross Island
Cormorant Island 64°48'S, 063°58'W South side of Anvers I.
Crystal Hill 63°39'S, 057°44'W Prince Gustav Channel
Cuverville Island 64°41'S, 062°38'W Errera Channel
Damoy Point 64°49'S, 063°32'W Wiencke Island (hut at Dorian Bay)
Danco Island 64°44'S, 062°37'W Errera Channel
Danger Islands 63°25'S, 054°40'W SE of Joinville Island
Demaria, Mount (See Tuxen, Cape)
Detaille Island 66°52'S, 066°48'W Crystal Sound
Devil Island 63°48'S, 057°17'W E. of James Ross Island
Dorian Bay (See Damoy Point)
Dubouzet, Cape 63°16'S, 057°03'W NE Trinity Peninsula
Dundas, Cape 60°44'S, 044°24'W Eastern Laurie Island, SOI
D'Urville Monument 63°25'S, 056°18'W SW Joinville Island
Duthiers Point 64°48'S, 062°49'W Gerlache Strait
Duthoit Point 62°19'S, 058°50'W Eastern Nelson Island, SSI
Enterprise Island 64°32'S, 062°00'W Gerlache Strait
Evensen, Cape 66°09'S, 065°44'W Crystal Sound
Fildes Peninsula 62°12'S, 058°58'W SW KGI, SSI
Fish Islands 66°02'S, 065°25'W Holtedahl Bay
Gage, Cape 64°10'S, 057°05'W Eastern James Ross Island
Gaston Islands 64°28'S, 061°50'W Gerlache Strait
Georges Point 64°40'S, 062°40'W Northern Ronge Island
Gibbs Island 61°28'S, 055°34'W SW of Elephant Island, SSI
Gin Cove 64°03'S, 058°25'W Western James Ross Island
Girard Bay 65°08'S, 064°00'W Lemaire Channel
Gosling Islands 60°39'S, 045°55'W South of Coronation I., SOI
Goudier Island 64°50'S, 063°30'W Port Lockroy hut -see also Jougla Pt
Gourdin Island 63°12'S, 057°18'W N. tip Antarctic Peninsula
Half Moon Island 62°36'S, 059°55'W East Side of Livingston I.
Hannah Point 62°39'S, 060°37'W Livington Island, SSI
Heim Glacier 67°28'S, 066°55'W Southern Arrowsmith Peninsula
Heroina Island 63°24'S, 054°36'W See Danger Islands
Heywood Island 62°20'S, 059°41'W Off Robert I., SSI
Horseshoe Island 67°51'S, 067°12'W NE Marguerite Bay
Hovgaard Island 65°08'S, 064°08'W Penola Strait
Huemul Island 63°40'S, 060°50'W Northern Trinity Peninsula
Hydrurga Rocks 64°08'S, 061°37'W Gerlache Strait
Intercurrence Island 63°55'S, 061°24'W Gerlache Strait
Jonassen Island 63°33'S, 056°40'W Antarctic Sound
Jougla Point 64°50'S, 063°30'S Port Lockroy (see also Goudier Is)
Kinnes, Cape 63°22'S, 056°33'W Joinville Island (see Madder Cliffs)
Kjellman, Cape 63°44'S, 059°24'W Charcot Bay
Lagarrigue Cove 64°39'S, 062°34'W Errera Channel (near Spigot Peak)
Lockroy, Port (Use Goudier Island and/or Jougla Point)
Lookout, Cape 61°16'S, 055°12'W Southern Elephant I., SSI
Macaroni Point 62°54'S, 060°32'W Deception Island, SSI
Madder Cliffs 63°18'S, 056°29'W Joinville Island
Martin, Point 60°47'S, 044°41'W S coast Laurie Island, SOI
Melchior Islands 64°19'S, 062°57'W Dallmann Bay
Melville, Cape 62°02'S, 057°37'W Eastern KGI, SSI
Metchnikoff Point 64°03'S, 062°34'W Northern Brabant Island
Mill, Mount (see Waddington Bay)
Murray Island 64°22'S, 061°34'W Hughes Bay
Neko Harbor 64°50'S, 062°33'W Andvord Bay (Arg. refuge hut)
Orne Islands 64°40'S, 062°40'W Northern Ronge Island
Palaver Point 64°09'S, 061°45'W West of Two Hummock Island
Paulet Island 63°35'S, 055°47'W South of Dundee Island
Pendulum Cove 62°56'S, 060°36'W Deception Island - geothermal beach
Penguin Island 62°06'S, 057°54'W King George Bay, KGI
Penguin Point 64°19'S, 056°43'W Seymour Island
Petermann Island 65°10'S, 064°10'W Penola Strait
Pitt Islands 65°26'S, 065°30'W North of Renaud Is, Biscoe Islands
Pitt Point 63°51'S, 058°22'W Trinity Peninsula (Victory Glacier)
Pléneau Island 65°06'S, 064°04'W Penola Strait
Portal Point 64°30'S, 061°46'W Reclus Peninsula
Port Lockroy (Use Goudier Island and/or Jougla Point)
Prospect Point 66°01'S, 065°21'W Holtedahl Bay
Robert Point 62°28'S, 059°23'W Robert Island, SSI
Rongé Island 64°43'S, 062°41'W West side of Errera Channel
Rosamel Island 63°34'S, 056E17'W Antarctic Sound
Rum Cove 64°06'S, 058°25'W James Ross Is
Seymour Island (see Penguin Point)
Shingle Cove 60°39'S, 045°34'W South coast of Coronation I., SOI
Skontorp Cove 64°54'S, 062°52'W Paradise Harbor - if landing
Small Island 64°00'S, 061°27'W Off Intercurrence Island
Snow Hill Island 64°28'S, 057°12'W Admiralty Sound
Spigot Peak (see Lagarrigue Cove)
Spring Point 64°18'S, 061°03'W Hughes Bay
Stonington Island 68°11'S, 067°00'W East Marguerite Bay
Suárez Glacier 64°56'S, 062°56'W Paradise Harbor
Telefon Bay 62°56'S, 060°40'W Deception Island - walk to craters
Torgersen Island 64°46'S, 064°05'W Arthur Harbor, Anvers I.
Turret Point 62°05'S, 057°55'W King George Island, SSI
Tuxen, Cape 65°16'S, 064°08'W Waddington Bay (Mt. Demaria)
Useful Island 64°43'S, 062°52'W West of Ronge Island
Valentine, Cape 61°06'S, 054°39'W Eastern Elephant I., SSI
View Point 63°33'S, 057°22'W Duse Bay, Trinity Peninsula
Waddington Bay 65°16'S, 064°05'W Penola Strait (Mt. Mill)
Wauwermans Islands 64°55'S, 063°53'W South of Anvers Island
Whalers Bay 62°59'S, 060°34'W Deception Island - old stations
Wiggins Glacier 65°14'S, 064°03'W Grandidier Channel
Wild, Point 61°06'S, 054°52'W Northern Elephant I., SSI
Yalour Islands 65°14'S, 064°10'W Penola Strait
Yankee Harbor 62°32'S, 059°47'W Greenwich I., SSI - Spit Point

hat kind of research?

The limited antropogenic impacts and the biological simple food web
makes Antarctica very suitable as a reference area and an excellent
indicator for the state of the earth’s environment.
A major proportion of the research carried out in Antarctica is
based in this foundation. The following list indicates a few
study areas which may be considered very important in the global context:
        • Oceanographic studies: The Southern Oceans impact on and role
          in the global climate change
        • Atmospheric studies: Monitoring and studies regarding
          ozone depletion and greenhouse gasses.
        • Glaciological studies: Studies of mass balance in the ice
          in order to evaluate changes in sea level, mapping of climatic
          changes through ice core studies and mapping of global
          pollution levels.
        • Biological monitoring: Population dynamics, survival strategies,
          vulnerability regarding human impacts, climate change, ozone reduction, etc.
        • Meteorology: improve weather prognosis, climate change
The above are identical to prioritised scientific programs carried
through in the Arctic, where the conditions to a large degree are
equally suitable as basis for indicator and reference studies.


During the IGY (1957-58) the ICSU (International
Council of Scientific Unions) set up a Special
Committee on Antarctic Research to co-ordinate the
scientific research of the twelve nations which were
active in Antarctica during this period. The
unprecedented success of the IGY led to the
establishment of the ICSU Scientific Committee on
Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the development of the
Antarctic Treaty.

SCAR is the single international, interdisciplinary,
non-governmental organisation which can draw on the
experience and expertise of an international mix of
scientists across the complete scientific spectrum. It
is, therefore, the obvious source of advice on a wide
range of scientific questions and it is ideally placed
to provide the answers. For over 30 years SCAR has
provided such scientific advice to the Antarctic Treaty
System and made numerous recommendations on a variety
of matters, most of which have been incorporated into
Antarctic Treaty instruments. Foremost amongst these
have been the advice provided for the many
international agreements which provide protection for
the ecosystems and environment of Antarctica.

Antarctic Whales like those you will see

The following info is taken from the National Science Foundation page at http://www.nsf.gov/home/news/polar.htm where one may find a lot more information about Antarctica. :-)

By the way, the U.S. Government has given permission to use this:

"(It's) Public domain: OK to use.
Credit to National Science Foundation
appreciated. Guy Guthridge"

NSF, Dated: June 1, 1998
Enjoy it!

Antarctic Dinosaurs

Title: New Dinosaur Finds in Antarctica Paint Fuller Picture of Past
Date: February 6, 1998

Media Contact: February 6, 1998
Lynn Simarski NSF PR 98-7
(703) 306-1070/ mailto:lsimarsk@nsf.gov

Program Contact:
Scott Borg
(703) 306-1033/ mailto:sborg@nsf.gov

A team of Argentinean and U.S. scientists has found fossils
of a duck-billed dinosaur, along with remains of Antarctica's
most ancient bird and an array of giant marine reptiles, on Vega
Island off the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The tooth of a duck-billed dinosaur, or hadrosaur, was found
in sands about 66-67 million years old, from the Cretaceous
period (about 1-2 million years before the asteroid impact that
contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs). The team that
found the fossils is headed by Sergio Marenssi of the Instituto
Antartico Argentino and Judd Case of St. Mary's College,

"This is the first duck-billed dinosaur to be found outside
the Americas," said Mike Woodburne, University of California
Riverside paleontologist who is part of the project. "This gives
us more support for the idea of a land bridge between South
America and Antarctica at that time." The land bridge was used
not only by dinosaurs but probably also by marsupial mammals
dispersing from the Americas to Australia via Antarctica.

The hadrosaurs are a distinctive group of American
dinosaurs, known for fancy crests on their skulls with networks
of passageways that may have been used for vocalization and that
may suggest the animals were social. Some stood perhaps 20 feet

"This find allows us to paint a much fuller picture of what
life was like in Antarctica at the time," commented Scott Borg,
NSF program manager for Antarctic geology and geophysics.
"The climate was obviously very different when these animals lived.
There must have been a lot of vegetation to support these large
planteaters. The find implies a complicated and robust

The region around Vega Island is extremely rich in both
terrestrial and marine fossils, and the only such fossil trove in
Antarctica to span the boundary of the Cretaceous and Tertiary
periods, the time when the dinosaurs were wiped out.

The team also recovered a four-centimeter-long piece of a
foot bone from what appears to be Antarctica's most ancient bird
yet found. Also collected were numerous partial skeletons of
gigantic marine reptiles called plesiosaurs and mosasaurs.
According to James Martin, a South Dakota School of Mines
paleontologist on the dig, these specimens included several
juveniles which are very rare in the fossil record.

The group of paleontologists also includes members from the
Smithsonian Institution and Argentina's Museo de la Plata.

The National Science Foundation -NSF-

NSF is making a transition to a new form of electronic
distribution of news materials. We will eventually replace the
current "listserve" with a new Custom News Service. From the
toolbar on NSF's home page, (http://www.nsf.gov), you can sign up
to receive electronic versions of all NSF materials (or those of
your own choosing).

Also see NSF news products at:

***NSF is an independent federal agency responsible for
fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering,
with an annual budget of about $3.3 billion. NSF funds reach all
50 states, through grants to more than 2,000 universities and
institutions nationwide. NSF receives more than 50,000 requests
for funding annually, including at least 30,000 new proposals.

An Antarctic landsape

Antarctica facts

Antarctica is the fifth largest and southernmost
continent. Its position at the South Pole, together
with its elevation and ice-and-snow cover, generates
the coldest climate on Earth. Its enormous ice sheet
covers all but 2 to 3 percent of Antarctica and extends
over the encircling ocean. If released by melting, this
amount of water would cause the sea level to rise more
than 60 m (200 ft) worldwide. The summer population is
several thousand, but only a few hundred scientists and
support personnel stay during the winter.

They live in semipermanent bases, the largest of which is the U.S.
base at McMurdo, Ross Island. The continent is more
than half again as large as the United States and
covers about 14,245,000 sq km (5,500,000 sq mi),
including 1,640,000 sq km (633,000 sq mi) of floating
ice shelves. At least a third of the coastline (about
30,000 km/18,600 mi) is hidden beneath perennial ice.
Most of the continent lies within the Antarctic Circle
(lat. 66 deg30' S). It is completely isolated by the
Antarctic Ocean. The South Shetland Islands adjoin the
ANTARCTIC PENINSULA. Other islands in the Antarctic
region, but removed from the continent itself, include
South Georgia, South Sandwich, South Orkney, Bouvet,
Heard, Balleny, Scott, and Peter. These lie within the
Antarctic Convergence, the fluctuating zone between
about 48 deg and 60 deg south latitude where cold
Antarctic surface waters descend below the warmer
waters of the South Pacific, South Atlantic, and Indian
oceans. Islands such as the Kerguelen Islands that lie
north of the Antarctic Convergence contain glaciers and
are considered loosely within the Antarctic region.
Because seasonal or perennial sea ice is found along
all coasts, protected harbors are not available to
ships much of the year. The continent may be subdivided
into two major parts on the basis of topography and
geology: west Antarctica, which is south of South
America, and east Antarctica, in the Eastern
Hemisphere. The boundary between them roughly follows
the 0 deg-180 deg meridian, from the east side of the
Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf in the WEDDELL SEA to the west
side of the ROSS ICE SHELF in the Ross Sea.

These enormous floating masses of PACK ICE are derived mostly
from glaciers discharging from the continent; the
Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf encompasses about 500,000 sq
km (193,050 sq mi), and the Ross Ice Shelf about
538,720 sq km (208,000 sq mi). The Ross Ice Shelf alone
is about equal to the area of Texas. Probably an
additional 600,880 sq km (232,000 sq mi) of ice shelves
fringe the coast of the continent. In striking contrast
to the ice cover are the "dry valley" areas of the
continent, especially in Victoria Land, which receive
little precipitation and do not have a continuous snow
cover. The Transantarctic Mountains (2,000 to 4,572
m/6,562 to 15,000 ft) extend from Victoria Land
southward along the west side of the Ross Sea to the
Weddell Sea on the opposite side of the continent.
Coal, uranium, and a variety of metallic minerals have
been found on land but are not considered economically
exploitable. Offshore petroleum and natural gas have
more economic potential. Fishing boats take whales,
seal, and krill (small protein-rich crustaceans) from
the surrounding ocean. Growing controversy surrounding
the issues of environmental protection and resource
development in Antarctica was intensified by oil spills
there in 1989.

Antarctica has two topographies--one of
perennial snow and ice (about 2 km/1.24 mi thick) and
one of land. The snow-and-ice surface in east
Antarctica is an irregularly shaped elliptical dome
that rises to a maximum elevation of more than 4,267 m
(14,000 ft). A deep bay in the margin of the continent
at the Amery Ice Shelf and Lambert Glacier produces a
topographic sag in the ice almost to the center of the
dome. Broad topographic highs rise above both sides of
it. In Queen Maud Land rugged mountains retain a high
ice surface inland. The ice surface of the dome rises
more gently from the coast south of New Zealand and
Australia. The surface of the ice sheet in west
Antarctica is much more irregular. A broad ice high
(2,000 to 3,000 m/6,562 to 9,842 ft) extends from the
center of the ice dome in east Antarctica past the
South Pole and into the center of west Antarctica at
the Ellsworth Mountains. Major ice flow is diverted to
the Ronne-Filchner and Ross ice shelves on opposite
sides of the ridge and is reflected in long shallow
troughs following that drainage.

In west Antarctica the only other large area of ice surface above
2,000 m 6,562 ft) is that in the Executive Committee Range
near the coast between the Amundsen Sea and the Ross
Sea. A broad saddle with ice elevations between 1,800
and 2,000 m (5,906 and 6,562 ft) connects the Executive
Committee Range and the ridge near the Ellsworth
Mountains. A smaller area of ice slightly higher than
2,000 m (6,562 ft) lies at the base of the Antarctic
Peninsula. Most of Antarctica's bedrock topography is
known only indirectly. The first drill hole to
penetrate rock--that at Byrd Station (elevation 1,530
m/5,020 ft), which was successful on Jan. 29, 1968, at
2,164 m (7,106 ft). The first measurements (1951-52) of
ice thickness, in Queen Maud Land, were by G. de Q.
Robin, who used seismic reflection and refraction
methods. Today, airborne radio-echo soundings can
penetrate the ice and produce continuous records of the
rock surface. The data collected thus far indicate an
elongate basin, named the Wilkes Subglacial Basin,
several hundred meters below sea level and parallel to
and west of the Transantarctic Mountains of Victoria
Land, in east Antarctica. The Polar Basin extends from
the South Pole toward Queen Maud Land. In Wilkes Land,
deep embayments with small rises penetrate from the
coast at longitude 145 deg and 115 deg.

In those embayments preglacial shorelines would have extended
many hundreds of kilometers into the present continent.
A bedrock high above 3,000 m (9,842 ft) is centered at
the Gamburtsev Mountains, near the Pole of
Inaccessibility. In the rest of east Antarctica the
bedrock topography ranges from about 1,000 m (3,280 ft)
above to slightly below sea level. In contrast, much of
the bedrock surface of west Antarctica is between sea
level and -1,000 m (-3,280 ft), and depressions almost
3,000 m (9,840 ft) below sea level are known. In ranges
where rock-surface elevations are between 1,000 and
3,000 m (3,281 and 9,842 ft), mountain peaks protrude
above the ice surface. Most notable are the ranges in
Marie Byrd Land and Eights Coast and the irregular
ridge that extends from the Horlick Mountains through
the Ellsworth Mountains to the Antarctic Peninsula. The
highest point in Antarctica is Vinson Massif (5,140
m/16,863 ft) in the Sentinel Range. The weight of ice
has depressed the land by an average of 560 m (1,838
ft), roughly 0.28 times the average thickness of ice
(2,000 m/6,562 ft). If the ice were removed, the land
would rise until most of east Antarctica was above sea
level, but west Antarctica would consist largely of a
shallow sea. By the time (1957-58) of the INTERNATIONAL
GEOPHYSICAL YEAR (IGY) many regions were still unknown.
Now all major areas of rock outcrop have been seen or
photographed from the air, if not actually studied on
the ground.


A vast Precambrian CONTINENTAL SHIELD makes up
east Antarctica. High-grade METAMORPHIC ROCKS dominate
the coast. The Ross mobile belt, a major tectonic unit,
includes the Transantarctic Mountains. An inner belt of
sedimentary and volcanic rocks of the Gondwana System
are Devonian to Jurassic in age; an outer belt is
Precambrian to Cambrian in age. Cenozoic volcanic
rocks, mainly basaltic, are present on the west side of
the Ross Sea. In west Antarctica the Antarctic
Peninsula and the coastal area to Marie Byrd Land make
up the Andean mobile belt, which consists mostly of
upper Paleozoic to Mesozoic rocks. The Ellsworth mobile
belt includes the Ellsworth and Whitmore mountains and
a broad arc that swings out to the Filchner Ice Shelf.
It contains rocks of mostly late Precambrian to late
Paleozoic age. Most plant and animal fossils are found
in the Gondwana System of sedimentary beds in the
Transantarctic Mountains or in the low-grade
metamorphic rocks of the Antarctic Peninsula. Fossils
(including the first land mammal fossil, a marsupial,
found in 1982) and rock types, ages, structure, and
metamorphism permit correlation of Antarctica with the
other continents believed to have once been united in
the ancestral continent of GONDWANALAND. Other fossil
evidence (including dinosaur remains, first found in
1986) indicates that Antarctica once had a climate
milder than its present one. The Kukri PENEPLAIN, an
erosional surface on the Precambrian and lower
Paleozoic basement rocks, has been identified
throughout the Transantarctic Mountains. A Tertiary
peneplain has been interpreted at several places in the
Antarctic Peninsula and Pensacola, Shackleton, and
Prince Charles mountains. Active volcanoes are confined
to the Transantarctic Mountains of Victoria Land, Marie
Byrd Land, and the South Shetland Islands.
Block-faulted mountains are mostly in the
Transantarctic Mountains, Queen Maud Land, and
Antarctic Peninsula. Soils in Antarctica are limited to
the ice-free areas, only 2% to 3% of the continent, and
are patchy even there. They are thin, commonly
alkaline, and have little humus, although they have
many soil-forming bacteria. A "desert pavement" of rock
fragments is common. Under patches of lichens and
mosses or penguin rookeries, organic acids play a
discernible role in soil formation. Polygonal patterned
ground, produced by growth of ice or sand wedges,
develops on most soils.


The Antarctic POLAR-CLIMATE boundary (10 deg
C/50 deg F isotherm for the warmest month) encompasses
about 12% of the surface of the globe, an area twice as
large as that of the Arctic. It includes all of the
Antarctic continent except the extreme northern tip of
the Antarctic Peninsula. The vast area of snow and ice
reflects about three-fourths of the incoming radiation.
Vostok at 78 deg28' south latitude and 3,505 m (11,500
ft) elevation has an average temperature for the
warmest month of only -33 deg C (-27 deg F ), an
absolute minimum of -88.3 deg C (-126.9 deg F), and an
absolute maximum of -21 deg C (-5.8 deg F). The
absolute minimum figure is the lowest temperature ever
recorded on Earth. Coastal areas are much warmer, with
annual mean temperatures of -15 deg to -10 deg C (5 deg
to 14 deg F). Most precipitation falls as snow. This
amounts to only 50 mm (2 in) in the interior but is
highly variable, from 500 to more than 1,000 mm (20 to
40 in), on the coast. An important aspect of the
atmosphere is the low-level temperature INVERSION.
Marine air subsides over the radiationally cooled
surface, generating minute ice spicules most of the
time. However, the bulk of the precipitation comes from
the cyclonic storms that diverge into the interior from
the ocean. The continent has the strongest sustained
westerly winds on Earth. In the mid-1980s, atmospheric
studies showed that an ozone "hole"--a dramatic drop in
ozone concentration in an area of the ozone layer above
the continent--was appearing and then disappearing each
Antarctic spring. Studies of past records revealed that
this had been occurring for several years. Whether this
"hole" is a product of human activities or a natural
process is not yet known. Scientists are also measuring
the Antarctic ice in an attempt to determine whether
the GREENHOUSE EFFECT, a global warming trend caused by
rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, is melting
the Antarctic ice cap (which could raise global sea
levels) or whether the warming air, because it can hold
more moisture, is increasing snowfall over Antarctica,
thus increasing the size of the continent.
Robert F. Black


Most of the life on and around the Antarctic continent
is supported by the sea, because the continent itself
is barren. The life consists primarily of a few species
of lichens and mosses; some small floating plants
called phytoplankton, which occur in certain freshwater
lakes in ice-free desert areas; and a few arthropods,
the most numerous of which are several groups of mites.
The sea, on the other hand, is extremely rich because
in many areas water movement is vertical and brings
nutrients from the bottom to the surface. These areas
of upwelling supply nutrients for phytoplankton, which
multiply quickly during the summer (October through
February) and become food for small floating animals
called zooplankton. Several species of zooplankton are
important to the Antarctic marine ecosystem; however,
the krill is usually recognized as the key. These
shrimplike organisms feed directly on various small
plants and are in turn an important food source for
many fish, birds, and mammals. Due to the exploitation
of certain Antarctic species, several agreements to
conserve Antarctica's living resources have been
signed. A fairly large number of fish species are found
in the Antarctic, but they are small in size or few in
number. At present knowledge about the population
dynamics and life history of the Antarctic fish is
limited, and, hence, experts are uncertain about their
general role in the ecosystem. Certain species are
known to be primary users of krill; many others use
food sources such as other species of zooplankton. Some
are predatory on species of fish and squid. The
cephalapods, which include the squid and the octopus,
are relatively abundant in Antarctica and are known to
be important in the diets of certain whales, seals,
penguins, flying birds, and fish. The birds of the
Antarctic ecosystem include mostly sea birds,
particularly the penguins, albatrosses, and petrels.
Their distribution is primarily limited by the
Antarctic continent to the south and to the northern
edge of the pack ice. Seven species of penguins are
confined to the pack ice region, and they constitute
more than 80% of the birds in the Antarctic region. The
most common penguin is the Adelie, a primary consumer
of krill. This species nests in ice-free areas mostly
on offshore islands around the Antarctic continent.
Colonies of more than 100,000 Adelies are fairly common
from early October through January, when they
congregate to lay eggs and hatch young. The emperor
penguin, another species, is considered typically
Antarctic. The emperors are well known and nest much of
their life on sea ice close to the continent but lay
eggs and raise their young on land. The female emperor
lays one egg. The male emperor incubates the egg by
placing it on top of his feet and covering the upper
surface of the egg with his body, which has a special
indentation called a brood pouch. The egg is incubated
through the early spring season, when severe storms can
occur. Other species of penguin common in the Antarctic
pack ice region are gentoo, chin strap, and king
penguin. The flying birds, characterized primarily by
the petrels (a diverse group of 24 species), nest on
various offshore islands and on rock outcroppings.
Antarctic marine mammals include the seal and the
whale. The whales can be conveniently classified into
two groups, the baleen and tooth whales. Four species
of large baleen whales--the blue whale, fin whale, sei
whale, and humpback whale--inhabit Antarctic waters
regularly; occasional inhabitants are the minke whale
and southern right whale, two other species of baleen
whales. Ten species of toothed whales can be found in
Antarctic waters. The two species considered most
important are the large sperm whale, the only
large-toothed whale to occupy the region, and the
killer whale. The following four species of seals are
found in the pack ice region: the crabeater, the
Weddell, the leopard seal, and Ross's seal. The
crabeater seal is by far the most abundant and has been
estimated to number around 20 million. The crabeater
has lobed teeth, presumably an adaptation for sieving
krill from the water. The Weddell seal occupies regions
of pack ice close to the Antarctic continent. It climbs
out of the water through cracks in the ice to give
birth to pups and breed from early September through
early November, depending upon the region. The leopard
seal is a predatory animal that is known to feed upon
penguins, fish, other seals, and occasionally krill.
Little is known about Ross's seal, the numbers of which
constitute less than 0.5% of the seals of the region.
Typically, the southern fur seal and the southern
elephant seal are found farther north than the four
species of true Antarctic seal, and they occupy
sub-Antarctic islands during the pupping and breeding
season, which occurs from September through December.
Donald B. Siniff


Although recent cartographic studies suggest that the
broad outlines of the continent may have been known
before the mid-16th century, it is generally thought
that James COOK, on Jan. 16, 1773, was the first to
cross the Antarctic Circle, and Adm. Fabian von
BELLINGSHAUSEN and M. P. Lazarev, on Jan. 28, 1820,
were probably the first to sight land in the Antarctic.
John Davis, captain of the American sealer Huron, was
the first to land, at Hughes Bay on the Antarctic
Peninsula, on Feb. 7, 1821. On Jan. 23, 1895, Leonard
Kristensen and Carsten BORCHGREVINK landed near Cape
Adare, and they were thus the first to set foot on the
main part of the continent. In 1898, Borchgrevink led
the first expedition to spend a winter on the
continent, also at Cape Adare. Their stay ushered in
the "heroic phase" of exploration by parties that
wintered over for scientific purposes. Several such
expeditions were launched during the next decade. Otto
NORDENSKJOLD explored the east coast of the Antarctic
Peninsula (1901-04). Robert F. SCOTT and Ernest H.
SHACKLETON led three scientific parties (1901-04,
1907-09, and 1910-13) from bases on Ross Island and
made major advances in geology, meteorology, and
oceanography. In 1908, T. W. E. David of Scott's party
ascended Mount EREBUS (3,795 m/12,450 ft), and later
reached the South Magnetic Pole (lat. 72 deg25' S,
long. 155 deg16' E) at an altitude of more than 2,130 m
(7,000 ft). The pole has since moved to the Adelie
Coast. In 1909, Shackleton traversed the Ross Ice
Shelf, ascended the Beardmore Glacier, and reached 88
deg23' south latitude on the polar ice sheet.

On Oct. 20, 1911, Roald AMUNDSEN of Norway left from
the Bay of Whales, on the east side of the Ross Ice
Shelf, with four companions on skis and with dogsleds.
They reached the South Pole (altitude 2,804 m/9,200 ft)
on Dec. 14, 1911, via the Axel Heiberg Glacier. Scott
started from Ross Island on Oct. 24, 1911, and followed
Shackleton's route of 1909. Scott, Wilson, Bowers,
Oates, and Evans man-hauled one sledge to the South
Pole on Jan. 17, 1912; all perished on the return. In
1911-14, Sir Douglas MAWSON explored the Adelie Coast
and Queen Mary Land. On Nov. 16, 1928, C. B. Eielson
and Sir George Hubert WILKINS made the first airplane
flight in Antarctica. Between 1926 and 1937, Lars
Christensen made aerial surveys and mapped the coastal
area from the Weddell Sea to the Shackleton Ice Shelf.
Adm. Richard E. BYRD used aircraft extensively during
four expeditions: 1928-30, 1933-35, 1939-41, and
1946-47. From a base at Little America, Byrd, Bernt
Balchen, A. C. McKinley, and Harold June flew to the
South Pole and back on Nov. 28-29, 1929. Between 1933
and 1939, Lincoln ELLSWORTH made four expeditions to
Antarctica. In 1935 he flew from the tip of the
Antarctic Peninsula to the Bay of Whales in the Ross
Sea, landing four times during twelve days. In 1934-37
a British expedition used planes, boats, and dogs to
study much of the Antarctic Peninsula, and in 1939 a
German group photographed a large area in Queen Maud
Land. In 1946-48, Comdr. Finn Ronne and a group, his
wife among them, mapped a large area from the Antarctic
Peninsula to the Filchner Ice Shelf. The
Norwegian-British-Swedish expedition of 1949-52
conducted major scientific traverses into the interior
and laid the foundation for the IGY.

During the IGY, 12 nations manned over 50
wintering-over stations in Antarctica. The Pole of
Inaccessibility (lat. 82 deg06' S, long. 54 deg58' E)
was reached on Dec. 14, 1958, by a Soviet IGY tractor
train. Between Nov. 24, 1957, and Mar. 2, 1958, Sir
Vivian FUCH's party crossed the continent from the
Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea. In 1982, British explorers
Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Charles Burton completed the
first crossing of both poles in a single
circumnavigation of the earth. China launched its first
major Antarctic expedition in 1984. The Special
Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), set up in 1957,
now coordinates all phases of Antarctic research.
Emphasis today is on long-term investigations of such
large-scale phenomena as ocean currents, underice
topography, and the relationship of the Antarctic ice
sheet to global climate.

The United States and the USSR recognize no territorial
claims in Antarctica and make none, although reserving
the right to do so. The Antarctic Treaty was ratified
on June 23, 1961, by the 12 IGY nations referred to
above--Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New
Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom (all of which
claim parts of the continent), plus Belgium, Japan,
South Africa, the USSR, and the United States. Brazil,
China, India, Poland, Uruguay, Italy, and Germany later
became voting signatories; other nations not conducting
major scientific activity in Antarctica have signed the
document but do not have voting rights. The Antarctic
Treaty states specifically that Antarctica shall be
used for peaceful purposes only and supports the
freedom of scientific investigation and cooperation. As
part of the treaty, all territorial claims were frozen
until a 1991 review. In 1988 an agreement to regulate
the future exploitation of Antarctica's mineral
resources was negotiated, but was widely criticized by
environmentalists and by developing nations demanding
that the continent's resources be shared under United
Nations supervision. This agreement fell apart in 1989
when Australia and France refused to sign it. In 1991
delegates drafted a new agreement to ban Antarctic
mining for 50 years. Robert F. Black

Bibliography: Adie, R. ed., Antarctic Geology and
Geophysics (1973); Auburn, F. M., Antarctic Law and
Politics (1982); Bonner, N., and Walton, D., eds., Key
Environments: Antarctica (1985); Byrd, R. E., Little
America (1930); Charney, J. I., ed., The New
Nationalism and the Use of Common Spaces (1982);
Deacon, G., The Antarctic Circumpolar Ocean (1984);
Dolgin, I. M., Climate of Antarctica (1986); Laws, R.
M., ed., Antarctic Ecology (1984); Llano, G., ed.,
Adaptations within Antarctic Ecosystems (1977);
Mickleburgh, E., Beyond the Frozen Sea (1988);
Orrego-Vicuna, F., ed., Antarctic Resources Policy
(1984); Parfit, M., South Light (1986); Pyne, S. J.,
The Ice (1987); Quigg, P. W., A Pole Apart: The
Emerging Issues of Antarctica (1982) and Antarctica:
The Continuing Experiment (1985); Ray, G. C., and
McCormick-Ray, M. G., Wildlife of the Polar Regions
(1981); Suter, K. D., Antarctica: Private Property or
Public Heritage (1990); Walton, David, Antarctic
Science (1987).

Roald Amundsen (1872-1928), a Norwegian explorer, led
the first successful expedition to the South Pole.
Racing against another team of explorers, Amundsen
reached his destination on Dec. 14, 1911.

Richard E. Byrd (1888-1957), an American aviator and
Antarctic explorer, was awarded the Congressional Medal
of Honor for making the first flight over the North
Pole (1926). He flew to the South Pole and back in 1929
during the first of several Antarctic expeditions.

The English explorer Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912)
led two expeditions to Antarctica -- the first
(1901-04) penetrating the continent to its farthest
explored latitude (82 degrees 16' 33" south) to that
date and the next (1910-12) becoming the second party
to reach the South Pole. Scott's findings from the
first expedition were published as The Voyage of the
"Discovery" (1905); the data compiled during the
second, fatal journey was published as Scott's Last

(From New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia)


[ANAN-75/01] June 2002

A new record for tourist landings in the Antarctic Peninsula region could be set during the 2002-03 austral summer if all currently advertised tourist voyages offering landings proceed, and interest in Antarctic visits remains close to the levels of the last few years.

With just under 16,500 Peninsula ship-based 'landing' berths on offer from sales outlets around the world, the existing record of around 13,600 landings set in 1999-2000 (ANAN-26/01, 19 July 2000) should be broken if currently scheduled voyages proceed and average 2002-03 voyage load levels across the industry exceed 82 per cent, a relatively low level. 

Passenger loads over the last two Peninsula seasons for which data are available (1999-2001) averaged 85 per cent, while information from Ushuaia and anecdotal evidence suggests that levels were similar in 2001-02 despite the effects on world travel post September 11 last year (ANAN-56/01, 26 September 2001).

Signs that a record tourist season for the Peninsula may be ahead are in line with predictions made by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators in recent years, and come as Antarctic Treaty nations are preparing for 'detailed discussions' on tourism at the 25th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM-XXV) next September (ANAN-52/01, 1 August 2001). The number of tourists visiting the Peninsula has more than doubled over the past decade, and activities undertaken have diversified significantly (ANAN-50/01, 4 July 2001).

Data collated from industry advertisements, brochures and web sites, indicate that 17 tourist ships could conduct up to a total of 123 separate 'tourist landing' voyages in the Peninsula region in the coming season. Those trips, which normally try to provide their clients with two shore landings each day while in the Peninsula area, will be made primarily from ports in southern South America or the Falkland Islands.  

The ships, which are operated by thirteen tour companies from five separate nations and have passenger capacities that vary from just under 50 to around 550, will be in Antarctic waters in the period between10 November 2002 and 14 March 2003. Six of them will also be undertaking other voyages in the South Atlantic region but those operations will focus only on sub-Antarctic South Georgia (see ANAN-75/03 following). 

Vessels that will be making their first visits to the Peninsula in 2002-03 are the 'Nordnorge' (ANAN-51/07, 18 July 2001) and the newly named and refurbished 'World Discoverer' (ANAN-72/03, 8 May 2002). Between them, they are to conduct 15 Peninsula voyages and have the potential to carry up to 3,800 tourists south, although the actual figure will probably be lower.

Ships returning to the Peninsula in 2002-03 after a break of one season are the 'Lyubov Orlova' (110 passengers, 9 Peninsula visits advertised for 2002-03), and the three-masted square-rigged barque 'Europa' (52/2) which made it first, and so-far only, visit in the same season (ANAN-65/08, 30 January 2002). 

'Orlova' is being used by US-based Quark Expeditions instead of the 'Kapitan Dranitsyn', as the latter's icebreaking capabilities are rarely required in the Peninsula region proper and she is much more expensive to operate. Orlova's previous operations in the region were as a charter to the now defunct Canadian companies Marine Expeditions Inc. and Marine Expeditions (ANAN-49/01, 20 June 2001). 

Twelve of the ships listed for landing operations in Peninsula waters in 2002-03 were there last season, and most operated there for many years before that. Those vessels, which between them could land between 10,000 and 11,500 people on shore during the season, are: 'Akademic Ioffe' (110 /10); 'Bremen' (164/7); 'Clipper Adventurer' (122/9); 'Endeavour' (110/7); 'Explorer' (100/9); 'Grigory Mikheev' (46/9); 'Hanseatic' (184/5); 'Marco Polo' (450-550/5); 'Professor Multanovskiy' (49/8); 'Professor Molchanov' (52/10); 'Polar Pioneer' (54/8); and 'Polar Star' (98/9).

The seventeenth tour ship that is expected to make landings is the 'Kapitan Khlebnikov', which is to visit the Peninsula briefly during its circumnavigation of the Antarctic continent. It is scheduled to rendezvous with the 'Professor Multanovskiy' at Deception Island on 7 January to transfer passengers and take on stores and other supplies, before travelling down the Peninsula and heading westwards towards the Ross Sea (see ANAN-75/04 following).

Of the 17 ships, eight are registered in Russia, five in the Bahamas, and one each in Barbados, Liberia, Norway and the UK.

In addition to tour ships, an unknown number of commercially operated yachts conducting perhaps 20 to 25 voyages between them are expected to land several hundred people in the Peninsula area.

Also, three large cruise liners, 'Amsterdam', 'Crystal Symphony' and 'Ryndam', are to make one voyage each to the Peninsula in the period between late January and mid-February. Their passengers, which may exceed 3,000 all up, will only sightsee, however, as no shore landings from them are proposed (ANAN-69/02, 27 March 2002).   

Should all activities currently planned for the Peninsula region in 2002-03 proceed, between 16,000 and 18,000 non-government visitors could experience the Antarctic Peninsula region by sea over the 125-day season, although one-in-six of them will not set foot on shore. 

Of the 20 tourist ships involved, all but three are currently operated by member companies of IAATO.  Only two commercial yacht operators are currently affiliated with the tour body. IAATO plans to discuss ways in which it can encourage more yacht operators to join its ranks at its annual meeting early next month (see ANAN-75/05 following).

Some Interesting Antarctic Links:






We also have expeditions to:

South Georgia And the South Sandwich Islands

If you would like to get to know Antarctica
and don't have time for a boat, go by airplane:

We have 2 day overnight adventure expeditions available.

See: http://www.victory-cruises.com/fly_antarctica.html

Back to Antarctica page

Breathtaking, Exhilarating, Awesome... Adventures You Will Never Forget. NEVER. 

Testimonials here.

Ring us direct by Telephone at 5661-621010