Monday, December 28, 2015

Sunny Antarctica

Before I ever had a chance to visit the Antarctic Peninsula, a fellow naturalist said to me, "When you go, may you have a sunny day in the Lemaire Channel." I never forgot those words and in my 28 trips here I've seen a few of those. But this years trip was super special, as well as a hike to the top of a hill in Neko Harbor.

High pressure beginning to set in along the Antarctic Peninsula.

The visuals are outstanding. It is like seeing Alaska, New Zealand or Norway 20,000 years ago when the Ice Age gripped the planet.

Here Shaun is trudging up to the top of a granite knob in Neko Harbor.

The landing is about 600 feet below the hill and part of our group is making their way up. Strict limits on visitation mean that only 100 people are allowed ashore act any one time. So they come over in color groups assigned on the ship.

The World anchored offshore in Neko Harbor.

From the hill, we can look to the north and see where the glacier is cracking into crevasse and spilling icebergs into the sea. Many of the bergs have receded in recent years.

A little farther up the slope we see how the brittle ice had opened up in tension cracks as it flows over a subglacial hill. This is how crevasse is created.

A black basaltic dike cuts through the pink granite. The granite is essentially the same age as many granites along the western margin of the Americas (Jurassic to Cretaceous or between 200 and 65 Ma). Most of the southern continents have a series of black dikes as well.

The World with Mt. Fran├žais in the cloud (background).

Close-up of Mount Fran├žais.

Anything that is anywhere near flat-lying will be covered in hundreds of feet of ice and snow. It simply piles up continuously through out the year. The whole landscape id ice covered and surreal.

A resident of The World making her way down the hill. The temperatures have hovered around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, although we did see one evening where it got down to about 20.

Sailing out of Anvord Bay on the evening of December 24.

Sunset to the west of Anvord Bay on Anvers Island.

We woke up to a White Christmas in Antarctica, ready to sail through the Lemaire Channel.

Check out the reference to the Una's Peaks here. These are not them but you get the idea.

The Lemaire! Dennis Puleston - we got our sunny day!

Icebergs. The channel has been choked with ice so far this season and few ships have made it through. But we found it relatively open on the Christmas morning. The wind is constantly moving ice in or out and and a few hours everything can change.

Reflections in the water.

Another one. The wind blows a lot down here so it was fun to see it so calm.

Jurassic-age volcanic rocks exposed in the eastern wall of the channel These have been bent to almost 90 degrees and are slightly altered into low grade metamorphic rocks.

Smooth sailing.

Suddenly, at the south end of the channel, a welcoming committee. Who could that be?

Why it's Santa and his helpers taking break from the delivery of presents in the Pacific Ocean islands. My this man gets around. More postings as we have internet connections!

4 comments:

sedonahiker100 said...

Otherworldly, beautiful.

Toodles said...

Breathtaking photos, Wayne! And how cool is it that Santa and helpers were there to greet you! We are so envious we're dying here. Judy and Joe

Beth said...

So interesting! I know you wife, Helen. We met at WFR training last summer in the Grand Canyon. My daughter and I stayed at your house when I brought her up from Phoenix for her Senior Portraits...thank you, by the way. Not that that is established, my sister is on the same ship you're on right now!

She listened to your talk the other day about fossils in Antarctica. I hope you get to meet her before this trip is done.

I'm enjoying your blog as it is keeping me connected to what my sister is experiencing, and your pictures are beautiful!

Wayne Ranney said...

Beth - thank you for reading the blog and writing to me! I met your sister Kelly last night at a caviar party! It was so wild to hear that someone here knows somebody who is friends with my wife. What a trip. Thank you - Wayne