Ross Sea and Victoria Land: Icy Geography

An expedition cruise to this region of Antarctica will reveal some incredible geographic features. For example, Victoria Land borders the Ross Ice Shelf, which is an astonishing 600 miles in length and 3,000 feet thick in places. The Ross Ice Shelf is the largest in the world.

An icebreaker cruise to Victoria Land would be incomplete without a stop to one of Antarctica’s few active volcanoes, Mount Melbourne, or to Terra Nova Bay with its beautiful ice caves.

The Dry Valleys are another spectacular stop to make on an Antarctic cruise. Incredibly, no rain has fallen in these valleys for over 2 million years, and possibly as long as 4 million years. These huge spaces are beautiful while being impossibly desolate. Because there is no precipitation, the valleys are free of ice and snow; ironically, such areas in Antarctica are known as oases. They were thought for decades to be lifeless, but scientists have recently discovered fungi, algae, and bacteria living inside the rocks.

The skyscraping Transantarctic Mountains also run through Victoria Land. This huge mountain range serves as the divider between east and west Antarctic; it is one of the longest mountain ranges on earth, running nearly 2,200 miles across the continent. It is 186 miles at its widest point, creating an awesome geological feature that can be seen from several points on the continent.