Jules Verne Voyager: Image Gallery

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Beardmore Glacier, Antarctica     One of the world's largest valley glaciers, the Beardmore — right at the center of this map — is ~200 km long and ~40 km wide at some points, descending 2.2 km in a NE trend from the South Polar Plateau to essentially sea level at the Ross Ice Shelf.

Beardmore Glacier, Face of the Earth

The upper image is from ARC Science Simulations' Face of the Earth ™, better showing natural surface colors, and the lower image is from Terra/MODIS imagery, better showing fractures on the South Polar Plateau and the ice flow lines, such as from the foot of the Beardmore and several other glaciers into the Ross Ice Shelf.

The Beardmore was discovered by Ernest Shackleton in 1908 during his "furthest south" expedition, though Shackleton referred to it in his journal as the "The Great Glacier" or just "The Glacier". He and his group then pioneered the route up the Beardmore to the South Polar Plateau — the "highway to the south" — later used in 1911 by Scott in his ill-fated bid to be the first to reach the pole. Before the discovery of the Beardmore, traversing it up through the Transantarctic Mountains, and reaching the South Polar Plateau, no one knew on what sort of terrain the South Pole would be located. For all anyone knew, the southwest side of the Transantarctic Mountains might drop back down and the South Pole might be at or near sea level like the North Pole, like in the fictional discovery of the South Pole by Capt. Nemo in Jules Verne's novel Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. Shackleton's group was half expecting to find a "pass" through the mountains that would allow them to decend down the southwestern side. But Shackleton knew, standing at the foot of the Beardmore and looking up it to the SW, that there must be some unimaginable massive source of ice to account for the glacier. That source is the South Polar Plateau. In some sense, Shackleton and party were the first to really know where the South Pole was, and there was no real mystery concerning the nature of the terrain of the southernmost geographical point on Earth after Shackleton attained the top of the Beardmore. It only remained to actually get there.


Beardmore Glacier, Terra/MODIS

 


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Jules Verne Voyager: Image Gallery last modified on Mon, 27 Oct 2014 15:03 UTC
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