The Pressure Ridges

Just 3 miles down the road is the New Zealand operated Scott Base. It's a tidy well organized base with a perfect location right on the edge of the "barrier".

New Zealand's Scott Base - premier ice-front property.

New Zealand's Scott Base - premier ice-front property.

Welcome to New Zealand!

Welcome to New Zealand!

The crumbly pressure ridges in the foreground with the "Rollers" in the background. If they weren't frozen I'd have my long board out in a minute! The Rollers are compression ridges in the McMurdo Ice Shelf where it anchors against the shore of Ross Island.

The crumbly pressure ridges in the foreground with the "Rollers" in the background. If they weren't frozen I'd have my long board out in a minute! The Rollers are compression ridges in the McMurdo Ice Shelf where it anchors against the shore of Ross Island.

The barrier is a visible  ice divide between the McMurdo Ice Shelf (which is thick "hard" ice fixed to the shoreline whose source is the nearby glaciers pouring down off the Trans-Antarctic Mountains) and the pack ice (which forms on the surface of the ocean and can persist for many years without melting). Where the pack ice crushes up against the shore or the ice shelf, driven by wind and tidal currents, pressure ridges occur. These pile up and crash over each other (like cars in a horrendous hollywood fender bender) and form fantastic structures and masses colored by the various shades of ice from the pure white of recent compacted snow through to the deep azure blue of multiyear ice, all of which are tinted by sunlight and sky.

The wonderful icescape is made even more interesting by the fact that the cracks and fissures that open to the waters beneath and allow Weddell seals to surface and rest on the ice. 

Scientists in "big red" don't bother these guys.

Scientists in "big red" don't bother these guys.

A perfect place for a guided Sunday afternoon wander with a small group of people from the base.

Green and red flags mark safe routes for walking or driving.

Green and red flags mark safe routes for walking or driving.