Christopher Columbus discovered the New World when trying to reach the Spice Islands of the East Indies.|
Vasco De Gama sailed south from Europe down the Western coast of Africa & rounded the Cape of Good Hope.|
||Dutchman, Dirk Gerritsz
reported seeing snow-covered mountains some 500 kilometers from South America
after being blown off course while rounding Cape Horn. These were undoubtedly
the South Shetland Islands.
||The British Captain, James
Cook isolated New Zealand as simply a pair of Islands, and finally removed Terra
Australis from tropical & temperate latitudes.
||Unbeknown to Cook, he
circumnavigated the Antarctic continent. During this voyage he discovered the
South Sandwich Islands and South Georgia Island, but it was his reports of huge
populations of fur seals which led directly to the next era of exploration in
||From bases in New Zealand,
American, European and Russian sealers discovered and started exploiting the fur
seals of the Antipodes Islands.
|| Sealers discovered the
Auckland Islands, where fur seal colonies were wiped out within a few years.
||William Smith discovered
the South Shetland Islands.
||The Antarctic Continent
was finally discovered. However, the honor of who first sighted the continent
is still disputed.
||American sealer, John
Davis, became the first person to actually set foot upon the Antarctic Continent
when he landed at Hughes Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula.
||British sealer, James
Weddell, reached 74º15's in the Weddell Sea, the farthest south that any man had
||In a search for new sealing
grounds, John Balleny discovered the islands that bear his name & the Sabrina
Coast of Antarctica.
||Jules Dumont d'Urville
discovered a bare, rocky shore directly south from Australia and named it Adélie
Land after his wife. He also made important measurements of the earth's magnetic
field in these southern waters, and he remapped the South Shetland Islands and
some sections of the Antarctic Peninsula.
||U.S. Navy Lieutenant Charles
Wilkes led the first American scientific expedition to the Antarctic, and was
the first important investigator to prove beyond any doubt that Antarctica was
a continent rather than endless ice packs & scattered islands.
||James Clark Ross was appointed
to lead an official British expedition to Antarctica. Originally aiming to find
the South Magnetic Pole, Ross ended up finding the Ross Ice Shelf and Mount Erebus,
the most active volcano in Antarctica.
||The first International
Polar Year was held, when 12 nations established 14 bases in polar regions to
observe and study the earth's climate and magnetism.
||Carston Borchgrevink &
his small party became the first men to winter over on the Antarctic Continent.
They built a small hut at Cape Adare for their base, and made the first sledge
journey on the Ross Ice Shelf.
||Robert Falcon Scott, an
officer in the Royal Navy, led the Discovery expedition to Victoria Land. With
companions, Edward Wilson and Ernest Shackleton, he made a trek towards the South
Pole, reaching 82ºS before having to turn back. In the same year, Otto von Nordenskjold
led a Swedish expedition to the Weddell Sea, but his ship, the Antarctic, was
crushed in the ice and sank.
organised a French national expedition which charted large parts of the Antarctic
Peninsula region. This work was to be of great importance to navigators in the
years to come.
||Ernest Shackleton returned
to Antarctica in quest of reaching the Geographic South Pole & Magnetic South
Pole but failed in his attempt.
||Roald Amundsen set out
in direct competition with Captain Robert Scott, to reach the South Pole.
||Amundsen reached the South
Pole on 14 December ahead of Scott.
||Scott & four companions
reached the South Pole 33 days after Amundsen. Their return journey was plagued
by ferociously bad weather and by 29 March 1912, all five men were dead.
||Douglas Mawson landed
a party at Cape Denison in Commonwealth Bay at about the same time that Scott
reached the South Pole in January 1912.
||In early December, Shackletons' ill-fated Endurance entered the Weddell Sea only to be trapped in pack ice by
19 January 1915. Their ship finally sank in November of that year, with pack ice
so thick they were unable to drag the 3 lifeboats and supplies to either water
or land. In April 1916 they finally launched three boats and reached Elephant
Island 6 days later. Shackleton set off in the largest boat with 5 companions
on 24 April, reaching South Georgia 16 days later. All of Shackleton's men left
on Elephant Island survived and were rescued by Shackleton onboard the Chilean
vessel Yelcho on 30 August 1916.
||A marine biological station
was set up by the British on South Georgia primarily to collect information on
the Antarctic whale populations.
||On Christmas day, Richard
Evelyn Byrd arrived at the Bay of Whales with 3 aircraft, 95 dogs and more than
50 men, determined to cross the South Pole by air.
Sir Hubert Wilkins, organised two expeditions and succeeded in exploring 2,100
kilometers of the Antarctic Peninsula by air.
||In November 1929, a geological
party made the startling discovery that the interior mountains consisted of sandstone
with coal deposits, and were therefore part of the Earth's buckled crust rather
than volcanic extrusions. In the same month, four men with Richard Evelyn Byrd
took off from Little America in a Ford Trimmotor and flew non-stop to a position
over the South Pole.
||The second International
Polar Year was held.
||Byrd returned to the Antarctic
twice to continue with scientific work, accomplishing further extensive exploration
& important mapping work.
||The first flight across
the Antarctic continent was made by American millionaire, Lincoln Ellsworth.
||The United States Navy
mounted Operation Highjump, the largest Antarctic expedition ever attempted, using
13 ships (including an aircraft carrier and a submarine), 23 aircraft, and more
than 4,700 men. Icebreakers and helicopters were used for the first time in Antarctica.
||Finn Ronne led a privately
financed expedition to Marguerite Bay, reoccupying Admiral Byrd's 1939 Base. During
this expedition, Ronne showed that the Antarctic Peninsula was connected to the
rest of Antarctica, solving one of the last great mysteries of the continent.
||The International Geophysical
||The Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic
Expedition, led by Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary, was the first overland