Antarctic Glacier – Blue Ice

Just to the south of Browning Peninsula is Eyres Bay, and in Eyres Bay sits the tongue of the Vanderford Glacier. Almost 12 Km wide and jutting out from the coast some 6 – 8 Km. The Vanderford Glacier even though small in comparison to other nearby Glaciers such as the Totten, Mertz and Ninnis, is still an impressive sight with it’s 40 metre sheer ice walls and it’s heavily crevassed surface.

The Vanderford Glacier

During a trip to Peterson Island we visited a distant extremity of the Vanderford Glacier in Eyres Bay, we attempt to get as close as possible to the ice wall, however the sea ice is broken up around the base of this massive piece of blue ice and we dare not get too close. Up close the contrast of the clear blue ice and the powder white snow makes an awesome sight.

Part of the Vanderford Glacier Ice tongue in Eyres Bay near Casey Antarctica

A small part of the Vanderford Glacier Ice tongue

Glaciers are basically rivers of ice, they make their way down from the high land mass down to the sea carving out a massive gully as time goes by. Because in Antarctica the snow and ice do not melt substantially, particularly as you go further inland, the ice and snow build up. As the snow and ice thicken, they reach a point where they begin to move, due to a combination of the surface slope and the pressure of the overlying snow and ice. The slowly makes its way to lower ground and eventually the sea thus forming a river of ice.

Glaciers are heavily covered in crevasses, which is evidence of the glacial flow. As the ice moves over the contour of the underlying landmass the brittle ice cracks like a sliced loaf of bread, forming deep fissures or crevasses. During snowfalls and blizzards the crevasses can form a top layer of ice and snow which can hide the potentially dangerous openings making it risky business to cross such terrain.

Many Antarctic expeditioners of old have fallen to the mercy of these icy abysses, one of the most famous of which a Glacier was named after – the Ninnis Glacier, which was named after Lieutenant B. E. S. Ninnis who lost his life on the far east sledge journey of the expedition on December 14, 1912 on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911–14) under Douglas Mawson.

The Vanderford Glacier in Eyres Bay near Casey  Antarctica

Frozen Eyres Bay with the Vanderford Glacier tongue on the horizon.

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