NASA Terra ASTER image of Thule Island
Location of Thule Island
|Archipelago||South Sandwich Islands|
|Area||5.5 km2 (2.1 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||3,525 ft (1,074.4 m)|
|South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands|
Thule Island, also called Morrell Island, is one of the southernmost of the South Sandwich Islands, part of the grouping known as Southern Thule. It is named, on account of its remote location, after the mythical land of Thule, said by ancient geographers to lie at the extreme end of the Earth. The alternative name Morrell Island is after Benjamin Morrell, an American explorer and whaling captain. It was espied by James Cook and his Resolution crew on 31 January 1775 during his attempt to find Terra Australis.
Thule Island is approximately triangular in shape and 5.5 square miles (14 km2) in area with a long, panhandle-like peninsula, 1.9 miles (3 km), extending to the southeast. Steep slopes ascend to a 0.93 by 1.24 miles (1.5 by 2 km) summit caldera with the peak of Mount Larsen at 710 m (2,329 ft) above sea level. Mount Larsen is named after the Antarctic explorer and whaler Carl Anton Larsen. Off the southeastern tip lies the small islet of Twitcher Rock, the southernmost land on Earth except for Antarctica and offshore islands considered part of Antarctica.
Thule Island is the westernmost of Southern Thule island group, which also encompasses Cook Island and Bellingshausen Island. It is thought that Thule and Cook may have been a larger single island in the past, and there is evidence for a submerged crater between the two. Steam from the summit crater lake and ash on the flank were reported in 1962. Volcanic heat keeps the crater on Thule Island free from ice. The peak elevation is 1,074 metres (3,525 ft).
Argentina, in order to assert its claim over the South Sandwich Islands, established the summer station Teniente Esquivel at Ferguson Bay on the southeastern coast on January 25, 1955. The station had to be evacuated in January 1956 because of volcanic eruption of Mount Holdgate (so named in 1964) on the neighboring Cook Island to the east. In 1976 it established a military base on Thule Island called Corbeta Uruguay (Port Faraday) in the lee (southern east coast) of the island. The British discovered the presence of the Argentine base the same year but chose to pursue a diplomatic solution to the issue until 1982. The base was occupied by British forces in the aftermath of the Falklands War and eventually destroyed in 1982.
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) is a British Overseas Territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean. It is a remote and inhospitable collection of islands, consisting of South Georgia and a chain of smaller islands known as the South Sandwich Islands. South Georgia is 165 kilometres (103 mi) long and 35 kilometres (22 mi) wide and is by far the largest island in the territory. The South Sandwich Islands lie about 700 kilometres (430 mi) southeast of South Georgia. The territory's total land area is 3,903 km2 (1,507 sq mi). The Falkland Islands are about 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) west-northwest from its nearest point.
Ross Island is an island formed by four volcanoes in the Ross Sea near the continent of Antarctica, off the coast of Victoria Land in McMurdo Sound. Ross Island lies within the boundaries of Ross Dependency, an area of Antarctica claimed by New Zealand.
Mount Erebus is the second-highest volcano in Antarctica and the southernmost active volcano on Earth. It is the sixth-highest ultra mountain on the continent. With a summit elevation of 3,794 metres (12,448 ft), it is located in the Ross Dependency on Ross Island, which is also home to three inactive volcanoes: Mount Terror, Mount Bird, and Mount Terra Nova.
The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a large 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes.
Montagu Island is the largest of the South Sandwich Islands, located in the Scotia Sea off the coast of Antarctica. It is a part of the British Overseas Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It is located 60 km (37 mi) northeast from Bristol Island and 62 km (39 mi) south from Saunders Island.
Zavodovski Island is an uninhabited volcanic island in the Traversay Islands subgroup of the South Sandwich Islands. It lies 350 kilometres (217 mi) southeast of South Georgia Island. It is the northernmost of the South Sandwich Islands and the nearest to South Georgia.
Bellingshausen Island is one of the most southerly of the South Sandwich Islands, close to Thule Island and Cook Island, and forming part of the Southern Thule group. It is named after its discoverer, Baltic German-Russian Antarctic explorer Fabian von Bellingshausen (1778–1852).
Vindication Island is a small uninhabited island in the South Sandwich Islands. It lies about 2 miles (3.2 km) from Candlemas Island, separated by the Nelson Channel.
Cook Island is the central and largest island of the Southern Thule island group, part of the South Sandwich Islands in the far south Atlantic Ocean. Southern Thule was discovered by a British expedition under Captain James Cook in 1775. Cook Island was named for Cook by a Russian expedition under Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, which explored the South Sandwich Islands in 1819–1820.
Saunders Island is a crescent-shaped island 8.8 km (5.5 mi) long, lying between Candlemas Island and Montagu Island in the South Sandwich Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean. It is a volcanic island composed of an active stratovolcano, 990-metre (3,248 ft) Mount Michael.
Bristol Island is an 8 km (5-mile) long island lying midway between Montagu Island and Thule Island in the South Sandwich Islands.
Mount Berlin is the sixth highest volcano in Antarctica, located 16 km west of Mount Moulton in Marie Byrd Land near the eastern coast of the Ross Sea. It is composed of two coalesced shield volcanoes: Merrem Peak and Berlin Crater. The volcanic structure is considered active, as steaming fumaroles have been observed near the rim of the northern and western calderas, producing fumarolic ice towers.
Mount Melbourne is a massive stratovolcano that makes up the projection of the coast between Wood Bay and Terra Nova Bay, in Victoria Land of Antarctica. It was discovered in 1841 by James Clark Ross, who named it for Lord Melbourne, British prime minister when the expedition was being planned.
Mount Sidley is the highest dormant volcano in Antarctica, a member of the Volcanic Seven Summits, with a summit elevation of 4,181–4,285 metres (13,717–14,058 ft). It is a massive, mainly snow-covered shield volcano which is the highest of the five volcanic mountains that comprise the Executive Committee Range of Marie Byrd Land. The feature is marked by a 5 km wide caldera on the southern side and stands NE of Mount Waesche in the southern part of the range.
Southern Thule is a collection of the three southernmost islands in the South Sandwich Islands: Bellingshausen, Cook, and Thule (Morrell). The Southern Thule territory has been administered by the United Kingdom since 1908 and also claimed by Argentina since 1938. The island group is barren, windswept, bitterly cold, and uninhabited. It has an extensive exclusive economic zone rich in marine living resources managed as part of the SGSSI fisheries. The Admiralty's Antarctic Pilot says that Southern Thule is part of an old sunken volcano, and is covered with ash and penguin guano. There are seals, petrels, and a bank of kelp just offshore, especially around a small inlet on Morrell called Ferguson Bay.
The Traversay Islands are a group of three islands—Zavodovski, Leskov and Visokoi—at the northern end of the South Sandwich Islands.
Mawson Peak is an active volcanic summit of the Big Ben massif on Heard Island, an external Australian territory in the Southern Ocean.
The Executive Committee Range is a mountain range consisting of five major volcanoes, which trends north-south for 80 km (50 mi) along the 126th meridian west, in Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica.
Mount Siple is a potentially active Antarctic shield volcano, rising to 3,110 metres (10,203 ft) and dominating the northwest part of Siple Island, which is separated from the Bakutis Coast, Marie Byrd Land, by the Getz Ice Shelf. Its youthful appearance strongly suggests that it last erupted in the Holocene. It is capped by a 4-by-5-kilometre summit caldera, and tuff cones lie on the lower flanks. Recely Bluff is on the northeast slope of the mountain, about 7 nautical miles (13 km) from the peak. Its volume of 1,800 cubic kilometres (430 cu mi) is comparable to that of Mount Erebus.
The history of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is relatively recent. When European explorers found the islands, they were uninhabited, and their hostile climate, mountainous terrain, and remoteness made subsequent settlement difficult. Due to these conditions, human activity in the islands has largely consisted of sealing, whaling, and scientific surveys and research, interrupted by World War II and the Falklands War.