Archive for the ‘Archaeology’ Category

Spinning Yarn: More Heart of the Great Alone #100

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

 Herbert Ponting was Scott’s photographer, equally skilled with an artistic eye and plenty of film! The shots he took are stunning and evoked the same surprising emotional response– Amazement! Incredulity! Recognition!  I was stunned at how much the ice had changed, yet not changed.

 So many penguin photos – gosh, I took a few of those, myself!! – and so many seal shots, but also the artistic angles. There were the obligatory “happy snaps” and the documentary shots too. Would anyone know or believe that men even went down to Antarctica, had these pictures not been taken? And would anyone have understood the immensity, or the scale, or the proportions of the ice, or seen the beauty of Nature at her most extreme?

 We owe these men, Hurley and Ponting, the utmost respect and admiration, and we owe the expeditioners more of the same.

Spinning Yarn: The Heart of the Great Alone. #99

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

It amazed me how much this exhibition meant to me. As I devoured each of the displays of fabulous black and white photographs of Antarctica taken 100 years ago by the famous Frank Hurley, I was transported not only back in time, but also back to the Frozen Continent, to see it through the eyes and heart of this skillful and daring man.

 Frank Hurley shared the huts with Mawson and his team, not only in his specialty as  photographer but also as a sledger. He man-hauled his fair share sleds and did his share of depot-laying, same as the rest of them. His company was valued on several scientific missions.

 His famous prints are the product of his labours in the tiniest of darkrooms in the most trying conditions of cold and cramped workspace. Some of his chemicals are still in his darkroom at the Huts, the labels still readable and corks still in the bottles.

Spinning Yarn: Campbell Island #92

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

 The high seas of the last few days had not abated by the time we reached Campbell Island, and it was not safe to take Orion into the harbour. We used the Island body to shelter on the lee side, and broke out the Zodiacs for a bit of an ocean run.

 Campbell Island is another Albatross colony cum sanctuary. There is one species, Dr Alex Watson told us, that lives only here. 

 The picture I took from the Zodiac, showing the rocky outcrop that stands off the coast of the island proper, circled by the “Campbell Island RAF”, shows a busy airport with flights arriving from all over the island, a variety of planes in all shapes and sizes, and an assortment of colours painted on the fuselages. Identity markings….

 The many birds were enjoying the edible bounty that the rough weather had brought to the surface, and the winds, and updrafts, playing with flying – circling and daring each other. I do not think that was my imagination! Birds dogfighting! What next!?

Spinning Yarn: Mismatching Plates #90

Friday, June 24th, 2011

 

Plate tectonics is the science of studying the movement of the Earth’s crust. We learned a bit about this on this trip.

 Macquarie Island, Campbell Island and New Zealand are all on the edge of the same plate, which is moving towards the Austral plate.  Usually one of the plates tucks underneath the other one, and slides below, but these plates are meeting edge on. The islands are a result of the meeting edge being lifted out of the water. Confirmed by geological study and observation, the islands are expected to move accordingly as the plates continue their journey.

 The whole area is volcanic. Antarctica itself is granite. The islands have visible and colourful layers of volcanic activity showing on the exposed surfaces and cliff faces. Age is apparent also, and it was good to have John McDonald with us to explain it all.