After 6 days of sailing on the Polarstern we saw our first glimpse of the island of South Georgia today rising through the fog. The 170 km long, narrow island has a mountainous spine rising to 3000m.
|South Georgia (c) NERC|
Half of the island is permanently covered with ice and snow. Glaciers have incised valleys and some still run into the sea, but where the glaciers have retreated they have left valleys and in some areas marginal hummocky ground with glacial moraines and hollows where peat bogs and lakes now occur.
Before we can disembark the ship we have to clear customs, and are currently waiting for staff from the British Antarctic Surveys King Edward Point base (which is situated in the old whaling base at Grytviken) to board the ship. We will then sail the raft (which is about 3 meters square), and two small inflatable boats, the remaining mile or so to shore.
We have already chosen our landing point, a small lagoon (Little Jason Lagoon) within Cumberland West Bay, on the northeastern coast. We have camping gear but a small hut there will act as our emergency shelter in case of severe weather. As soon as we have made a base camp we plan to take a core from the lagoon. We expect a 10m thick blanket of sediments on the bottom of the lagoon which will have accumulated since the ice retreated from the coast about 10,000 years ago.
|Above: Little Jason Lagoon|
(c) Mark Kenney South Georgia Journal 2012
Below: Satellite image of Cumberland Bay (E&W)
(c) BAS, NERC
|Mel onboard the Polarstern|