Day 8 |
Dec 18, 2008

Brown Bluff And Hope Bay

By Juan Carlos Restrepo

Noon position: Latitude 63º 30.6’ S, Longitude 056º 54’ W

This morning we finally had some blue skies and a crispy (although windy) sunny summer day. The visibility was incredible and the light was shining strong on Brown Bluff, an impressive rock cliff that stands to over 800 meters with almost completely vertical walls around it. The rock formation in this place is an Englacial volcano, which is the cone of a volcano that erupted under and within a glacier. The eruption first created a pocket of water and extruded lava at first. Then, when it eventually broke through the ice it created a deposit of volcanic tuff. This tuff was injected into a mold of ice and is the reason for the steep sided, flat topped shape of this type of volcanoes. The tuff deposit is now distinctively yellow and sitting on top of the lava. Brown Bluff is located on the Antarctic Peninsula, in the western shore of Antarctic Sound and holds some of the youngest rocks in Antarctica.

The Zodiac ride to the beach was windy and the wind kept increasing throughout the day to the point that it forced us to cancel the afternoon landing at Esperanza Base, but more of that later on. Once at the beach in Brown Bluff the scenery was beautiful. Thousands of Adelie penguins were walking along the beach, back and forth. It felt like Wall Street at lunch break!There were also some Gentoos around, most of them with two fat chicks in the nest, and there were also Adelie chicks, many of them in pairs as well.Snow and Cape Petrels flew all around us. We went on a walk around the place where we got some interpretation on the geology and the wildlife by the Expedition lecturing staff.

When we left, just before noon, the wind had picked up and it was gusting to 40 knots which provided a shaky and wet, nonetheless safe, Zodiac ride back to the ship.

We sailed north for a couple hours until we got to Hope Bay, where the Esperanza Base (Argentina) is located.The scout-boat took the shore party to the base and brought back some children and their parents to the ship for a tour and some refreshments, by invitation from our Captain Peter Stahlberg. On the way back the conditions deteriorated rapidly after a sudden drop in the atmospheric pressure and a strong gale started blowing, gusting to 55 - 60 knots, which forced the Captain to stop all Zodiac operations in the interest of safety.Our guests had to stay on board for a while just like the shore party had to wait at the base for conditions to improve. At about 5 p.m. the wind eased off just enough to send the guests back to the base and to bring crew and Zodiacs back to the ship. The landing was then cancelled and we set sail for Deception Island.