Tuesday, March 20, 2012

McMurdo Sound

McMurdo Sound (looking South) (source

The southern-most solid ground of Antarctica that is accessible by ship is reached via the McMurdo Sound. It extends about 35 miles (55 km) long and wide and it is about 800 miles (1.300 km) away from the South Pole. To the east is Ross Island located.

McMurdo Sound (top=North, dotted blue = coastal/bay ice, darker blue = ice shelf) 

The sound is named after Lt. Archibald McMurdo of HMS Terror, who first charted the area in 1841 under the command of British explorer captain James Clark Ross.

red dot = McMurdo Sound (top: Australia & N-Zealand, right: S-America)

British explorers Ernest Shackleton and Robert Scott built bases on the sound's shoreline as jumping-off points for their overland expeditions to the South Pole. Scott's team froze to death while returning from the South Pole. He hoped his expedition would be the first to reach the pole, but when they got there on January 17, 1912, they found a tent with a note in it from the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Amundsen made it to the South Pole just 34 days before Scott, on December 14, 1911.

An Emperior Penguin at Beaufort Island (by cherieann2003)

Beaufort Island is the small island at the northern entrance to the McMurdo Sound, it is a protected area due to its site as a penguin rookery.

next episode: Ross Island


  1. Polar exploration is so cool (no pun intended)! Even the ship name HMS Terror is a great name! Looking forward to the next post already.

    1. The ship was a bomb vessel used by the UK against the US in the 1812 war. Its terror was the inspiration for your nation anthem...

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