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Wonders of Antarctica

Mount Erebus craters
Mount Erebus craters. / NSF/Josh Landis, Wikimedia Commons / public domain

WorldBlue  Highlights

Antarctica is an unusual continent, little known to general people and comparatively little investigated. Here are missing numerous kinds of landmarks that are common in all other continents of the world – but this is compensated by several kinds of landmarks unique to Antarctica.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Antarctica

Geological wonders

Airdevronsix icefall


Giant, approximately 5 km wide and 400 m tall icefall.

The fantastic Airdevronsix icefall from 17.5 km distance, Antarctica
The fantastic Airdevronsix icefall from 17.5 km distance! Warren icefall is seen in the left side / P.Wright, US Geological Survey, public domain
Mount Erebus


One of the few constantly glowing lava lakes in the world. Here are found large anorthoclase crystals in the center of the caldera of the volcano.

Mount Erebus
Mount Erebus./ Eli Duke, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Blood Falls


Unusual natural feature – an outflow of hypersaline water, seeping through the ice, tainted with iron oxides in blood color. This approximately 15 m tall fall provides insight into a unique ecosystem that has been isolated from the outside world for 1.5 million years.

Blood Falls from above, Antarctica
Blood Falls from above / Peter Rejcek, National Science Foundation (United States Antarctic Program), public domain
McMurdo Dry Valleys


Contender for the honor of driest place on Earth, this valley has not seen precipitation for more than thousands of years, and moisture (some 30 mm per year) reaches it from the meltwater. Any moisture is removed from here by extremely powerful winds. A unique ecosystem of microorganisms.

Warren icefall


One of the largest icefalls on Earth – 920 m wide and 400 m tall.

Lake Vanda


Lake with extremely clear water (and when it freezes – extremely lucid ice) because it is located in an enclosed valley sealed off from the winds and thus does not get any dust. One of the saltiest natural waters in the world. The bottom layer is an enclosed hydrological system with specific chemical processes.

Cape Renard


One of the most impressive vertical cliff mountains not only in Antarctica but in the world, a pinnacle of basalt and ice rising more than 700 m from the sea.

Cape Renard cliffs, Lemaire Channel in Antarctica
Cape Renard cliffs, Lemaire Channel / Wikimedia Commons, Mila Zinkova, CC BY-SA 3.0
Katabatic winds at Commonwealth Bay


Windiest place on Earth with very frequent storms. The speed of wind here occasionally exceeds 90 m/s – 320 km/h. These specific winds are called katabatic winds and they might last for days. Fast-moving ice crystals may cause unusual electric effects.

Storm at Mawson Hut, Antarctica
Storm at Mawson Hut / Frank Hurley, 1911-1914, State Library of New South Wales.
Lake Untersee


Permanently frozen freshwater lake with extremely high pH – between 9.8 – 12.1. Lake is supersaturated with oxygen (150%), and sediments of this lake may produce more methane than any other natural water body on Earth. Contains unique microorganisms.

Onyx River


The largest and longest river in Antarctica, the meltwater stream flows for a few months in summer. While flowing towards Lake Vanda, it dissolves the salt from the ground, gradually becoming saltwater flow.

Onyx River - the largest in Antarctica
Onyx River – the largest in Antarctica / P.Wright, US Geological Survey, public domain
Lake Vida


This lake is covered with at least a 19 m thick layer of ice – the thickest layer of non-glacial ice on Earth. Below the ice is a hypersaline lake with unique microorganisms.

Mount Erebus fumarole ice towers


Here, constant effluxes of fumaroles have created hundreds of unusual ice towers, some up to 18 meters high.

One of the ice towers created by fumaroles at Mount Erebus, Antarctica
One of the ice towers created by fumaroles at Mount Erebus, Antarctica./ Alasdair Turner, GOLF 4-3-9 Antarctica Expedition 2012 Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0
Icebergs at Pleneau and Booth islands


Field of stranded icebergs (seen here for the most time) of highly unusual forms and shapes. The icebergs are stranded on the ground, thus they can be safely examined while navigating among them.

Icebergs at Pleneau, Antarctica
Icebergs at Pleneau, Antarctica./ McKay Savage, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Campbell Glacier glacial caves


At least 200 m long ice caves that were created by thermal processes on the contact of sea ice and glacier ice.

Tsarsporten (Tsars Porten)


An enormous natural arch, the only way to access the beach of Norvegiabukta – one of the rare beaches in Antarctica.

Biological wonders

Baily Head penguin colony


The largest colony of chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica) in the world with more than 100,000 pairs.

Mount Kirkpatrick find of fossils


One of the richest and most interesting fossil finds in Antarctica. Found remnants of several species of Jurassic dinosaurs.

Cape Washington colony of Emperor Penguins


The largest colony of the largest penguin – emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri). Here are breeding 20 – 25 thousand pairs of this unusual bird.

Cape Adarie penguin colony (Cape Adare)


The largest single colony of Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) in the world with some 250,000 breeding pairs.

Svarthamaren cliffs


Ice-free cliffs with a colony of some 820,000 Antarctic petrels (Thalassoica antarctica). This is the largest bird colony in the inland of Antarctica, 200 km from the coast.

Architecture wonders

Neumayer III


German Antarctic station of innovative, high technology design, constructed in 2009.

Halley VI Station


A polar station of the United Kingdom, constructed in 2013. Station has a unique design. It is built on a moving ice shelf and stands on enormous skis. Upon necessity, this large structure can be pulled to a new location.

Princess Elisabeth Base


Belgian polar station, constructed in 2009, the first zero-emission polar station, buildings of the station have exceptional hi-tech architecture.

Scott’s (Cape Evans) Hut


This hut was built by Robert Scott and the team in 1911 before their tragic trip to the South Pole.

Shackleton’s Hut


This hut was constructed by Ernest Shackleton and his team during the Nimrod Expedition in 1908.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Antarctica Cruising Guide: Includes Antarctic Peninsula, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Ross Sea

Now packed with even more breathtaking color photographs, wildlife descriptions, and detailed area maps, this updated edition to a bestselling Antarctica travel guide includes fascinating, full accounts of interesting places, spectacular landscapes, and local plants and wildlife—from penguins and other birds to whales, seals, and myriad mammals. A definitive field guide to Antarctica, this book caters to South Pole visitors traveling by luxury liner, adventure cruise, or private boat.

Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent

Antarctica is the most alien place on the planet, the only part of the earth where humans could never survive unaided. Out of our fascination with it have come many books, most of which focus on only one aspect of its unique strangeness. None has managed to capture the whole story—until now.

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