Thule Island

Last updated

Thule Island
Thule Island ASTER.jpg
NASA Terra ASTER image of Thule Island
Location of Thule Island
Coordinates 59°27′S27°18′W / 59.450°S 27.300°W / -59.450; -27.300
Archipelago South Sandwich Islands
Area5.5 km2 (2.1 sq mi)
Highest elevation3,525 ft (1074.4 m)
United Kingdom
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. [1]



Thule Island is approximately triangular in shape and 14 square kilometres (5+12 sq mi) in area with a long, panhandle-like peninsula called Hewison Point, three kilometres (2 mi), extending to the southeast. Steep slopes ascend to a 1.5-by-2-kilometre (1 by 1+14 mi) 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. On the southwestern end lies Wasp Point. Off Hewison Point lies the small islet of Twitcher Rock, the southernmost land on Earth except for part of Cook Island, Antarctica and offshore islands considered part of Antarctica. [2]

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).

Argentine occupation

Teniente Esquivel Station [es], 1955. Teniente Esquivel-ss17.jpg
Teniente Esquivel Station  [ es ], 1955.
Corbeta Uruguay base, 1981. Thule1981.jpg
Corbeta Uruguay base, 1981.

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 the breakout of the Falklands War in 1982. The base was occupied by British forces in the aftermath of the war and eventually destroyed later that year. [3]

See also

Related Research Articles

Geography of Antarctica Geographic features of Antarctica

The geography of Antarctica is dominated by its south polar location and, thus, by ice. The Antarctic continent, located in the Earth's southern hemisphere, is centered asymmetrically around the South Pole and largely south of the Antarctic Circle. It is washed by the Southern Ocean or, depending on definition, the southern Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. It has an area of more than 14 million km2.

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic

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 from its nearest point.

Ross Island Island in Ross Sea, Antarctica

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.

Peter I Island Island in Antarctica

Peter I Island is an uninhabited volcanic island in the Bellingshausen Sea, 450 kilometres (240 nmi) from continental Antarctica. It is claimed as a dependency of Norway and, along with Bouvet Island and Queen Maud Land, composes one of the three Norwegian dependent territories in the Antarctic and Subantarctic. The island measures approximately 11 by 19 kilometres, with an area of 156 km2 (60 sq mi); its highest point is the ultra-prominent, 1,640-metre-tall (5,380 ft) Lars Christensen Peak. Nearly all the island is covered by a glacier, and it is surrounded most of the year by pack ice, making it inaccessible during these times. There is little vertebrate animal life on the island apart from some seabirds and seals.

Ring of Fire Region around the rim of the Pacific Ocean where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur

The Ring of Fire is a region around much of the rim of the Pacific Ocean where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe-shaped belt about 40,000 km (25,000 mi) long and up to about 500 km (310 mi) wide.

Montagu Island

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

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 Island in the Southern Thule group of the South Sandwich Islands

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).

Cook Island, South Sandwich Islands Island in the Southern Thule group of the South Sandwich Islands

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, South Sandwich Islands

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

Bristol Island is an 8-kilometre-long (5 mi) island lying midway between Montagu Island and Thule Island in the South Sandwich Islands.

Mount Melbourne Volcano in Antarctica

Mount Melbourne is a 2,733-metre-high (8,967 ft) ice-covered stratovolcano in Victoria Land, Antarctica, between Wood Bay and Terra Nova Bay. It is an elongated mountain with a summit caldera filled with ice with numerous parasitic vents; a volcanic field surrounds the edifice. Mount Melbourne has a volume of about 180 cubic kilometres (43 cu mi) and consists of tephra deposits and lava flows; tephra deposits are also found encased within ice and have been used to date the last eruption of Mount Melbourne to 1892 ± 30 CE. The volcano is fumarolically active.

Mount Morning Volcano in Victoria Land, Antarctica

Mount Morning is a shield volcano at the foot of the Transantarctic Mountains in Victoria Land, Antarctica. It lies 100 kilometres (62 mi) from Ross Island. Mount Morning rises to an elevation of 2,723 metres (8,934 ft) and is almost entirely mantled with snow and ice. A 4.1 by 4.9 kilometres wide summit caldera lies at the top of the volcano and several ice-free ridges such as Hurricane Ridge and Riviera Ridge emanate from the summit. A number of parasitic vents mainly in the form of cinder cones dot the mountain.

Traversay Islands Three northernmost South Sandwich Islands

The Traversay Islands are a group of three islands—Zavodovski, Leskov and Visokoi—at the northern end of the South Sandwich Islands.

South Sandwich Trench Deep arcuate trench in the South Atlantic Ocean

The South Sandwich Trench is a deep arcuate trench in the South Atlantic Ocean lying 100 kilometres (62 mi) to the east of the South Sandwich Islands. It is the deepest trench of the Southern Atlantic Ocean, and the second deepest of the Atlantic Ocean after the Puerto Rico Trench. Since the trench extends south of the 60th parallel south, it also contains the deepest point in the Southern Ocean.

Mount Siple Antarctic shield volcano

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.

Bouvet Island Norwegian uninhabited subantarctic volcanic island

Bouvet Island is a Norwegian uninhabited protected nature reserve. As a subantarctic volcanic island, it is situated in the South Atlantic Ocean at the southern end of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, making it the world's most remote island. It is not part of the southern region covered by the Antarctic Treaty System.

Wasp Point is a projecting point in the middle of the southwest coast of Thule Island, South Sandwich Islands. It was named by United Kingdom Antarctic Place-Names Committee (UK-APC) in 1971 after the American sealing vessel in which Captain Benjamin Morrell of Stonington, CT, visited the island in 1823. Next to Longton Point on Cook Island, it is the southernmost landmass of the South Sandwich Islands and the southernmost landmass worldwide north of the 60th parallel south and therefore the southernmost landmass outside of the Antarctic Treaty System.

Mount Berlin Volcano in West Antarctica

Mount Berlin is a 3,478 metres (11,411 ft) high glacier-covered volcano in Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica, 210 kilometres (130 mi) from the Amundsen Sea. It is a c. 20-kilometre-wide (12 mi) mountain with parasitic vents that consists of two coalesced volcanoes; Berlin proper with the 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) wide Berlin Crater and Merrem Peak with a 2.5 by 1 kilometre wide crater, 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) away from Berlin. Trachyte is the dominant volcanic rock and occurs in the form of lava flows and pyroclastic rocks. It has a volume of 2,000 km3 (500 cu mi) and rises from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. It is part of the Marie Byrd Land Volcanic Province.

Kemp Caldera and Kemp Seamount form a submarine volcano south of the South Sandwich Islands, in a region where several seamounts are located. The seamount rises to a depth of 80 metres (260 ft) below sea level; the caldera has a diameter of 8.3 by 6.5 kilometres and reaches a depth of 1,600 metres (5,200 ft). The caldera contains several Hydrothermal vents, including white smokers and diffuse venting areas, which are host to chemolithotrophic ecological communities. The seamount and caldera, which were discovered by seafloor mapping in 2009, are part of the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Marine Protected Area.



  1. Schalansky, Judith (2010). Atlas of Remote Islands. New York, NY: Penguin. p. 50. ISBN   978-0-14-311820-6.
  2. Maxar Technologies (2021). "Southern Thule" (Map). Google Earth. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  3. Stonehouse, Bernard (2002), Encyclopedia of Antarctica and the southern oceans, Wiley, p. 264, ISBN   978-0-471-98665-2