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Natural Wonders of the Polar Regions
Arctic
Antarctic
The Polar Plateau
Mount Erebus
Antarctic Sea Ice
Dry Valleys
Antarctic Peninsula

 

 

 

 

Macquarie Island
Southern Ocean
Earth's Natural Wonders in the Polar Regions
Highest Point: Mt. Hamilton, 1,420 feet (433 m)
Age of island: 600,000 years
Vegetation: tussock, mire, feldmark
 
Remote, wind-blasted Macquarie island is on the way to Antarctica in the “Furious Fifties" at about 55 degrees south, and is volcanic in origin. it is believed the island began as a spreading ridge under the ocean between 11 and 30 million years ago.
A view over the Macquarie Island bluffs[1]

 

Macquarie Island lies in the southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean, about half-way between New Zealand and Antarctica. 54°37'53"S, 158°52'15"E. Politically, it has formed part of the Australian state of Tasmania since 1900 and became a Tasmanian State Reserve in 1978. In 1997 it became a world heritage site. It was a part of Esperance Municipality until 1993, when the municipality was merged with other municipalities to Huon Valley. Ecologically, it is part of the Antipodes Subantarctic Islands tundra ecoregion.

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) maintains a permanent base, the Macquarie Island Station, on the island. The base's residents, the island's only inhabitants, range in numbers from 20 to 40 people throughout the year

History
The Australian/Briton Frederick Hasselborough discovered the island accidentally in July 1810 when looking for new sealing grounds.[1] He claimed Macquarie Island for Britain and annexed it to the colony of New South Wales in 1810. The island took its name after Colonel Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821. Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, who explored the area for Alexander I of Russia, produced the first map of Macquarie Island. Bellingshausen landed on the island on November 28, 1820, defined its geographical position and traded his rum and food for Macquarie Island's fauna with the sealers. Between 1810 to 1919 seals and then penguins were hunted almost to the point of extinction.


A view over the Macquarie Island bluffsIn 1890 New South Wales transferred the island to Tasmania, which leased it to Joseph Hatch (1837 - 1928) between 1902 and 1920 for his oil industry based on harvesting penguins.

Between 1911 and 1914, the island became a base for the Australasian Antarctic Expedition under Sir Douglas Mawson. George Ainsworth operated a meteorological station between 1911 and 1913, followed by Harold Power (1913 until 1914) and by Arthur Tulloch from 1914 until its shutdown in 1915. In 1933 the authorities declared the island a wildlife sanctuary and eventually transferred it to the Commonwealth of Australia under the administration of the Australian Antarctic Territory on December 26, 1947. The Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) established its expedition headquarters on May 25, 1948 on Macquarie Island.

On December 23, 2004 an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter magnitude scale (one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded) rocked the island, but caused little damage.

On April 12, 2008, a 7.1 earthquake on the Macquarie Fault occurred near Macquarie Island

Geography

The island has an approximate length of 34 km and a width of 5 km, with an area of 128 km². Near Macquarie Island are two minor groups of islets, Judge and Clerk Islets, and Bishop and Clerk Islets, (Bishop and Clerk Islets), 34 km to the south, and 0.6 km² in area.

The island is in two main pieces of plateau of around 150-200m elevation to north and south, joined by a narrower and lower isthmus. The high points include Mt Elder on the north-east coastal ridge at 385m, and Mt Hamilton and Mt Fletcher in the south at 410m.

Macquarie Island lies atop a geographic feature named for the island, the Macquarie Ridge. This seafloor ridge is aligned along the eastern margin of the tectonic plate boundary between the Indo-Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate.

In the 19th Century Emerald Island was supposed to exist south of Macquarie Island.[2]

 

Like stepping into Jurassic Park, see and hear the big creatures in their big landscape.

 

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April 26, 2009

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References
 
1. Wikipedia Commons-Macquarie Island-Creative Commons Attribution License-retrieved 7/25/2009
2. Wikipedia-Macquarie Island-retrieved 7/29/2009
 
 
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