Antarctica-South America January-March 1975: Overview

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, Universityof Wisconsin - Green Bay


map My own route took me from San Francisco (where I and my fiance - now my wife - had been visiting my family) to New York. Then, as she boarded a flight for Syracuse, I joined the rest of the crew and got on one for Buenos Aires.

Our party consisted of me, Maarten de Witt (the chief), Roy Kligfield, and Richardson (Pitch) Allen.

After a couple of days in Buenos Aires, we flew to Ushuaia to join the R/V Hero. We sailed to Gibbs Island, spent three weeks doing field work, then moved on to Palmer Station.

Our route from Ushuaia took us east down the Beagle Channel, then south. Coming back, we passed within sight of Cape Horn, then sailed back up the Beagle Channel to Ushuaia.
It's actually a bit embarrassing to point out Gibbs Island on a map, since it's almost as far north as you can be and still claim to be in Antarctica. In fact, I never even crossed the Antarctic Circle thanks to some mid-trip changes in ship demands that left two of us stuck at Palmer Station. However, Shackleton's crew spent months on Elephant Island, north of Gibbs Island, and nobody says they weren't in Antarctica.
Gibbs Island is actually rather small and consists of two islands joined by a gravel bar. Yellow denotes flat or gentle terrain, light brown is steep, dark brown is cliffs and blue is glacier.
It wasn't size but lithology that sent us to Gibbs Island. The island had outcrops of dunite, basically pure olivine that indicated that a chunk of mantle rock was exposed here. What we found was that a large mass of dunite (magenta) had been thrust over schist (yellow). The thrust fault (green) consisted of sheared and serpentinized dunite. To our dismay, the exotic high-pressure minerals we hoped to find in the schist were not there. It was garden variety greenschist.
From Gibbs Island we sailed through Gerlache Strait and Neumeyer Channel to Palmer Station. At Palmer, we took a number of short trips, including Lemaire Channel, now regarded as one of the most scenic passages in Antarctica.
map The two of us left at Palmer got permission to return on the Lindblad Explorer to Ushuaia, then flew back to Buenos Aires.

If you've got a ticket from Buenos Aires to New York, might as well take full advantage of it. Roy and I traveled together as far as La Paz, then he headed off to see friends in Mexico and I continued to hopscotch up the Andes.

Return to Antarctica-South America 1975 Index
Return to Professor Dutch's Home Page

Created 15 February 2000, Last Update