he Akademik Ioffe. 
Image courtesy of Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris.
he Akademik Ioffe. Image courtesy of Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris.

Geoscientists sail to Antarctica to study plate tectonics, glaciology and climate change – Dispatch No. 1

JANUARY 1, 2013
53° 17.3’ SOUTH AND 45° 7.2’ WEST

The Akademik Ioffe.
Image courtesy of Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris.

We heralded in the New Year with two celebrations: at midnight, Greenwich Mean Time, our dinner concluded with a rousing chorus of Auld Lang Syne. In the ship’s bar, at midnight, local time, we toasted to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2013 and to great geological discoveries in the Scotia Arc.

Understandably, breakfast was pushed back by 30 minutes the following morning.

Our 22-day-long geosciences expedition departed Santiago, Chile, on December 29, 2012, bound for Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. With a population of 2,000 people, Stanley is the smallest and most remote capital city in the world. It’s also, unofficially, the lupine capital of the world – every house sports a lovely English garden that’s chock-a-block full of lupines and other hearty flowers.

Following the spine of the Andes, we jetted southwards towards Tierra del Fuego. On several occasions, the plane lurched, seemingly, to the port side when a good half of the passengers jumped across the aisle, straining to get a glimpse of geological processes in action: a smoking volcano and glaciers descending from mountaintops on their death marches to the adjacent Pacific Ocean.

At writing, we’ve travelled 585 nautical miles across the Scotia Sea, en route from the Falkland Islands to South Georgia and the Western Antarctic Peninsula. During the expedition, we’ll spend six days at sea and 15 days on land, exploring geological outcrops and experiencing Serengeti wildlife moments. The seas are uncharacteristically calm this afternoon, and are waves gentle. Although some people have been queasy, no one has suffered from seasickness.
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