Mawson Coast and Prydz Bay

Mawson Coast and Prydz Bay

Emperor Penguins, with Indian Affinities

I. Map Boundaries: 60 to 70 degrees South, 60 to 80 degrees East

II. Country: Antarctic Treaty Secretariat (Stations operated by Australia, China, and Russia; India plans to open a research station in the Larsemann Hills by 2012)

III. Overview

Prydz Bay and the Amery Ice Shelf are one of the most prominent bays or indentations in the solid wall of icy land and mountains that is East Antarctica. Prydz Bay is in a rift valley, which matches another rift valley in present-day eastern India, and an indication of the long journey of India since the breakup of Gondwana. The rift valley in India that is matched is either Godavari or Mahanadi. The National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research in India thinks it is the Mahanadi Rift. Prydz Bay formed in the Late Paleozoic Era during early Gondwana rifting and was adjacent to either the Godavari or Mahanadi rift of northeastern India. India started moving away from Antarctica in the early Cretaceous Period. Sediments under the bay contain coal, which formed when the area was covered with southern conifer rainforest from the late Cretaceous to the Late Eocene. In the Oligocene, the area went underwater and transitioned to a glacial environment in the Late Eocene. By the Middle Miocene, a polar ice sheet was established. Continue reading

Koukdjuak and the Crystal Eye of Nunavik

A false gold mine from the 1500s and a nesting waterfowl haven

I. Map boundaries: 60 to 70 degrees North; 60 to 80 degrees West

II. Country: Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador; Nunavut-part of Qikiqtaaluk Region; Quebec including Katavik Regional Government or Nunavik)

III. Overview

In 1576, a voyage from England under the leadership of Martin Frobisher sought to find the Northwest Passage, a straight that would lead to China. He sailed into Frobisher Bay and was ambushed by natives. However, he was able to collect rock specimens. He returned to England, carrying a black stone that assayers pronounced was high grade gold ore. Two more expeditions were funded to explore the gold, and a settlement was made on Kodlunarn (White Man’s) Island to mine the gold. Ships returned to England two times with ore, but when the second shipment of ore arrived in England, they learned that the first shipment of ore had been determined to be worthless. Today the island is preserved as a national historic site. Continue reading

Graham Land and Palmer Archipelago

The greenest part of Antarctica; volcanoes, penguins, and a melting ice shelf

Map boundaries: 60 to 70 degrees South; 60 to 80 degrees West

Countries: Antarctic Treaty Secretariat (stations operated by Argentina, Chile, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States)


The Antarctic Peninsula sticks out into the flow of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica and causes upwellings, creating a highly productive marine ecosystem, noted for penguins and marine mammals. East of the peninsula, the Larsen Ice Shelf is breaking up on the edges. The Wordie Ice Shelf, formerly in southeastern Marguerite Bay, had melted by 2009. In the South Shetland Islands, Deception Island volcano and Livingston Island harbor Antarctic flora and fauna while providing spectacular volcanic scenery. Much of the scientific research is situated around Anvers Island, where Palmer Station is located. Vascular plants are found as far south as Lagotellerie Island, near 68 degrees South. Continue reading

Ob River and Urengoy Gas Field

Baby Mammoths, Waterfowl, and Gas Fields–world’s largest estuary and second largest gas field

Map boundaries: 60 to 70 degrees North; 60 to 80 degrees East

Country: Russia (Archangel: Nenetsia Autonomous Region, Komi Republic, Krasnoyarsk, Sverdlovsk, Tomsk, Tyumen: Khanti Mantsia and Yamilia Autonomous Regions)


This map area marks the transition from boreal forest to tundra and contains the northern extension of the Ural Mountains, which is the Yamal Peninsula. East of the Urals is the low-lying West Siberian Plain. It is the site of the world’s second largest gas field, the Urengoy field, in Yamalia; and the home of most of percent of Russia’s oil production, in Khantia-Mantsia. The Samotlor Oil Field is Russia’s largest. The Urengoy and Nadym gas fields extend southward from the Gulf of Ob and Gulf of Taz. To the north of the Taz River, the Yamburg Gas field is under development as the world’s third largest gas field. The oil fields are north and east of Surgut and around Nizhnevartovsk. One of Russia’s first oil fields is located in the southwest of the map area around the Konda River (Shaimskoye Oil Field). To complete the fossil energy picture, the northeastern Komi Republic is a major coal mining area, especially around the city of Vorkuta. Continue reading