Monday, 31 December 2012

Around Marguerite Bay, Antarctic peninsula:
three research stations

Marguerite Bay is a major bay on the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, along the Fallières Coast. The bay is bounded on the north by Adelaide Island and on the south by George VI Sound and Alexander Island.

In the background, the Antarctic Peninsula with the Ice Shelf on the Fallières Coast.

George VI sound, a 483 km long bay, usually frozen, between Alexandra Island and the Peninsula coast.
Located at 71°S, 68°W

By this time of the year, Summer is reaching its best days in Antarctica.  Temperatures may rise from -10º to 5º at most, and even some forms of vegetal life show up on rocks, now free of ice.

Three research stations are located close to the shores of Marguerite Bay: San Martin, an argentinian base at the small Barry Island; Rothera and Fossil Bluff, two UK bases, at the large islands of Adelaide and Alexandra.

San Martin, Barry Island

Barry Island is a small island, one of the Debenham Islands.
Coordinates: 68°08′S, 67°07′W.

Barry Island was charted by the British Graham Land Expedition (BGLE) under John Riddoch Rymill, who used the island for a base in 1936 and 1937.

Argentina built the San Martín base in 1951, located on this island. Around twenty people live there all year round.

San Martín was for many years the southernmost station in the world, south of the Polar Circle. 

Maguerite Bay (or Margaret Bay) is a place of wonderful iced mountains scenery:

 At sunset

Through the 24-hour sunlight days of summer

To the west:

Rothera research station, Adelaide island
At 67° 34’ S, 68 ° 08’ W

The island is 140 km long and heavily glaciated with mountains of up to 2565m height. The station is built on a promontory of rock.

BAS Rothera Station was established in 1975 to replace old Adelaide Island Station. It is a large facility open throughout the year, and in the summer the population will peak at just over 100 people.

In the winter months, April to mid October, a compliment of around 22 will be continuing the science work and looking after the station infrastructure.

The Bonner laboratory, a state-of-the-art facility for terrestrial and marine biology: three dry labs, one wet lab, aquarium, library, microscope room...

Bransfield House, where the main comunity services are located, is the hub of the base: dining room, bar, library and TV rooms, computer rooms, communication facilities, meteorological facilities, dried food storage and kitchen.

Rothera serves as the capital of  the British Antarctic Territory.

The docking quay has regular visists from the BAS ship RRS James Clark Ross

The base also has 2 Twin Otters that allow fast support to Fossil Bluff station.

Stonehouse bay, a large body of water.  
Adelaide Island's largest glacier, the Shambles Glacier, calves into this bay (far right).

To the south:

Fossil Bluff, Alexandra island, George VI sound

Latitude 71°20' S, Longitude 68°17' W

This small base was established on Alexander Island in 1961. It is about 225 miles south of Rothera,

With summer-only occupation since 1975, the bluff is a collection of buildings and facilities, at the centre of which lies the hut.

Fossil Bluff only houses four people.

 The main hutt, named Bluebell Cottage

The base is operated by Twin Otters from Rothera station (90 to 110 minutes flight)  during the Antarctic summer season.

Giza Peak, backing the station to the West.

Summer in Antarctica can also be colourful:

Antarctic Pearlwort, a rare flowering plant in the Antarctic region, extends to as far as 60º South along the western coast of Antarctic Peninsula.

An almost-sunset at Rothera, the night of a long Summer day.

This was my New Year post. Happy 2013 for all visitors!