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Bouvet Island

Bouvet Island (in Norwegian, Bouvetøya) is known as the most remote island in the world; Antarctica, over 1600 kilometers (1000 miles) to the south, is the nearest land mass. This uninhabited, volcanic, Antarctic island is almost entirely covered by glaciers, making it difficult to approach. Bouvet is uninhabited, and its extremely harsh environment precludes anything but short-duration stays. Nevertheless, the island supports some flora (such as lichens) and fauna (seabirds and seals). Abundant sea ice surrounds the island.

The island is the southernmost extension of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the underwater mountain chain that runs through the Atlantic Ocean and serves as the dividing line between the African and South American plates in the southern hemisphere. Bouvet is located near the triple junction between the African, South American, and Antarctic plates.

Bouvet Island was discovered in 1739 by a French naval officer Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier after whom it was later named. He called it "Cap de la Circoncision", thinking it was a promontory of a larger southern continent. The French Commander’s discovery of Bouvet Island was undoubtedly exciting, both for him and mapmakers. However, the coordinates were inaccurately recorded during the first sighting, and the small land mass was lost again until a British whaler named James Lindsay found it in 1808.

It was claimed by the United Kingdom in 1825 as Liverpool Island. It was subsequently visited by representatives of different states several times during the nineteenth century. There were several disputes about what the island’s name should be and which nation should have control of it. A few expeditions visited the island in the late 19th century.

In 1928, the UK waived its claim in favor of Norway, which had occupied the island the previous year. Norway was finally able to name it a dependency in 1930, and renamed the island Bouvet Island. In 1971, Norway designated Bouvet Island and the adjacent territorial waters a nature reserve.

Since 1977, Norway has run an automated meteorological station and studied foraging strategies and distribution of fur seals and penguins on the island. In February 2006, an earthquake weakened the station's foundation causing it to be blown out to sea in a winter storm. Norway erected a new research station in 2014 that can hold six people for periods of two to four months.

Thick ice covers more than 90 percent of the island year round. Christensen glacier drains the north side; Posadowsky glacier drains the south side. A ring of volcanic black sand beaches encircles most of the island. In many areas, the thick layer of ice stops abruptly at the island’s edge, forming steep ice cliffs that plunge to the beaches and oceans below.

Seen from above, one of the most prominent features is Wilhelmplataet caldera, the large circular depression on the western side of Bouvet. Calderas form following volcanic eruptions as land collapses into newly empty or partly-emptied magma chambers. The most recent eruption occurred on Bouvet about 2,000 years ago.

The highest point — 780-meter Olav Peak — lies midway across the island near the northern coast. Notice the long shadows that the peak casts into the caldera. Although it is not particularly tall, the peak's remoteness and the fact that it had never been climbed inspired filmmaker Jason Rodi — who had already climbed the highest mountain on all seven continents — to organize an expedition and give it a try. In 2012, a team of filmmakers, adventurers, and artists landed on the island and climbed to the highest point, where they planted a time capsule.

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Page last modified: 22-07-2017 18:08:13 ZULU