Fire and ice: unravelling the climatic and volcanic history of James Ross Island, Antarctic Peninsula

Back in the mid-nineteenth century British explorer James Clark Ross took his ships, HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, farther south than anyone else had been. He now lends his name to James Ross Island, a part-volcanic edifice that rises out of the sea off the north-east tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. The island records a geological history dating back to the Cretaceous, though its great peaks are volcanic. The most recent rocks of the island record a monumental struggle between fire and ice, the volcanoes, and the ice sheets that cover them. The glacigenic sediments that are interspersed with the volcanic rocks contain rich fossil assemblages which suggest that at times, the climate was warmer, with the ice retreating. Their study may help us to delimit the patterns of climate change in the Antarctic Peninsula region as Earth's global climate warms.


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Authors: Smellie, John, Nelson-Laloë, Anna, Williams, Mark

1 January, 2006
Geology Today / 22
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