Here's what USGS Professional Paper 591, Descriptive Catalog of Selected Aerial Photographs of Geologic Features in areas outside the United Sates has to say about the dry valleys of Antarctica. I've added my personal comments.

The Taylor Dry Valley extends 32 kilometers from the Taylor Glacier to McMurdo Sound. Small highland ice sheets in the Asgard Range nourish two expanded-foot glaciers, the Commonwealth glacier and the Canada glacier.
PD: These glaciers were even more spectacular in person than in their aerial photographs. The vertical cliffs at their ends are amazing.

The drainage of lower Taylor valley is up valley into lakes Fryxell and Chad because a glacial tongue from McMurdo Sound once occupied the valley.
PD: I wondered why the streams flowed up valley.

Dust blown downvalley accentuates cracks in the sea ice on McMurdo Sound.
PD: As Mary Miller and I flew in to the dry valleys we admired the wonderful pattern of broken sea ice revealed by the dust.

Metasedimentary and granitic rock underlie this region.
PD: I saw these rocks broken by temperature change and freeze thaw and weathered by windblown snow into ventifacts.

Commonwealth Glacier is an expanded-foot glacier with vertical terminal walls about 10 meters high.
PD: While I was at Lake Hoare camp surveyors measured the height of the walls to be closer to 20 m.

There are radial crevasses deeply etched by ablation and ephemeral meltwater.
PD: I was privileged to see some of the ephemeral meltwater in action.

The Professional Publication was published in 1969, the air photographs of Taylor Dry Valley were taken in 1957.
PD: I still have the book after all these years.

The photos were available as 9 x 9 inch contact prints costing $1.

Return to Antarctica.

Return to Homepage

Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty

© 2002

5 July 2002