Thule Island

Thule Island

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Thule Island, also called Morrell Island, is one of the southernmost of the South Sandwich Islands, part of the grouping known as Southern Thule
Southern Thule
Southern Thule is a collection of the three southernmost islands in the South Sandwich Islands: Bellingshausen, Cook, and Thule . Southern Thule is British territory, though claimed by Argentina. The island group is barren, windswept, bitterly cold, and uninhabited. It has an extenzive EEZ rich...

. It is named, on account of its remote location, after the mythical land of Thule
Thule
Thule Greek: Θούλη, Thoulē), also spelled Thula, Thila, or Thyïlea, is, in classical European literature and maps, a region in the far north. Though often considered to be an island in antiquity, modern interpretations of what was meant by Thule often identify it as Norway. Other interpretations...

, said by ancient geographers to lie at the extreme end of the earth. The alternative name Morrell Island is after Benjamin Morrell
Benjamin Morrell
Benjamin Morrell was an American sealing captain and explorer who between 1823 and 1831 made a series of voyages, mainly to the Southern Ocean and the Pacific Islands, which are recorded in a colourful memoir A Narrative of Four Voyages...

, US explorer and whaling captain.

Geography


Thule Island is approximately triangular in shape and 5.5 mi2 in area with a 3 km (1.9 mi) long, panhandle-like peninsula extending to the southeast. Steep slopes ascend to a 1.5 by summit caldera
Caldera
A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, such as the one at Yellowstone National Park in the US. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters...

 with the peak of Mount Larsen
Mount Larsen
Mount Larsen is a mountain, 710 m, situated in the east-central portion of Thule Island in the South Sandwich Islands. Charted in 1930 by DI personnel on the Discovery II who named it for Captain C.A. Larsen....

 at 710 m (2,329 ft) above sea level. Mount Larsen is named after the Antarctic explorer and whaler Carl Anton Larsen
Carl Anton Larsen
Carl Anton Larsen was a Norwegian Antarctic Explorer, who made important contributions to the exploration of Antarctica, the most significant being the first discovery of fossils, for which he received the Back Grant from the Royal Geographical Society...

. Off the southeastern tip lies the small islet of Twitcher Rock
Twitcher Rock
Twitcher Rock is a rock in Douglas Strait, 55 m high, lying 0.7 nautical miles east of the southeast point of Thule Island in the South Sandwich Islands. Discovered by a Russian expedition under Bellingshausen in 1820. Charted in 1930 by DI personnel on the Discovery II...

, the southernmost land on Earth except for Antarctica and offshore islands considered part of Antarctica.

Thule Island lies close to Cook Island
Cook Island, South Sandwich Islands
Cook Island is the central and largest island of Southern Thule, part of the South Sandwich Islands in the far south Atlantic Ocean. Southern Thule was discovered by a British expedition under Captain James Cook in 1775. The island was named for Cook by a Russian expedition under Bellingshausen,...

 and Bellingshausen Island
Bellingshausen Island
The island is a basaltic andesite stratovolcano, and the latest crater, about across and deep, formed explosively some time between 1968 and 1984.-References:*...

. It is thought that Thule and Cook may have been a larger single island in the past, and there is evidence for a submerged crater between the two. Steam from the summit crater lake
Crater lake
A crater lake is a lake that forms in a volcanic crater or caldera, such as a maar; less commonly and with lower association to the term a lake may form in an impact crater caused by a meteorite. Sometimes lakes which form inside calderas are called caldera lakes, but often this distinction is not...

 and ash on the flank was reported in 1962. Volcanic heat keeps the crater on Thule Island free from ice. The peak elevation is 3525 feet (1,074 m).

Argentine occupation

See also: Southern Thule
Southern Thule
Southern Thule is a collection of the three southernmost islands in the South Sandwich Islands: Bellingshausen, Cook, and Thule . Southern Thule is British territory, though claimed by Argentina. The island group is barren, windswept, bitterly cold, and uninhabited. It has an extenzive EEZ rich...

.


Argentina, in order to assert its claim over the South Sandwich Islands, established the summer station Teniente Esquivel at Ferguson Bay on the Southeastern coast on January 25, 1955. The station had to be evacuated in January 1956 because of volcanic
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

 eruption. In 1976, it established a military base on Thule Island called Corbeta Uruguay
Corbeta Uruguay
Corbeta Uruguay was an Argentine military outpost established in November 1976 on the island of Thule, Southern Thule, in the South Sandwich Islands. The base was established by order of the then-military junta governing Argentina as a way to back up its territorial claims on British territory in...

 (Port Faraday) in the lee (southern East coast) of the island. The British discovered the presence of the Argentine base in 1976 but chose to pursue a diplomatic solution to the issue until 1982. The base was occupied by British Forces in the aftermath of the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

and eventually destroyed in 1982.

Sources