Cover Story - The Crystallographic Tourist in the Antarctic

The photograph on the front cover shows 'glassy ice' near Crystal Sound, Argentine islands; it was taken by Durward Cruickshank on 18th January 1998. He describes the story of his trip on the following pages. The rough sketch map below shows the area.

Large scale map of area.
Large scale map

enlarged area of map enlarged view of Crystal Sound
penguin with chick King penguin with chick, South Georgia.

Cover Story continued - The Icy Waters of Crystal Sound

In January 1998 I went on a cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula. This is the long arm which sticks out from the main Antarctic continent towards the tip of South America.

To join the World Discoverer I had to fly via Buenos Aires. See sketch map above.
There I had a reunion with my former graduate student Leo Becka who did splendid work in 1961 on hexamethylenetetramine at temperatures down to 34 K - far below any temperature ever recorded in Antarctica.

I joined the ship at Ushuaia for the voyage south to the glaciers, icebergs, penguins and whales.

photos penguins and icebergs

One day studying the charts I noticed a region called Crystal Sound off the west coast of the peninsula. On looking more closely I recognised some rather familiar names given to the little islands and rocks in the Sound: Bragg, Dennison, Bernal, Fowler, Pauling, Owston, Shull, Wollan, Levy, Peterson...There were other names less familiar to me: Kidd, McConnel, Matsuyama, Nakaya, ... Further south were Megaw Island, Nye Glacier and Perutz Glacier.

Thanks to help from the British Antarctic Survey and the Scott Polar Research Institute, both in Cambridge, and with some assistance from Frank Allen and Kate Crennell,
I eventually learnt how these bleak places got their names. There are many thousands of topological features in Antarctica, and in this particular area the Antarctic Place-names Committee is the responsible British naming authority. They decided to use the names of pioneers in techniques which have helped in the elucidation of Antarctic problems. Glaciologists are obvious choices, and within that group the names of the investigators of the structure of ice crystals were chosen for features in Crystal Sound. Evidently Dr Brian Roberts (1912-1978) handled the selection of names, which he described in an article Glaciologists and Antarctic place-names, published in Ice (Cambridge, 1962) 9,10-18. He lists over 100 glaciologists and their achievements e.g.

Owston's Acta Cryst. paper of 1949 on the diffuse scattering of X-rays by ice, which was aided byEndurance was trapped in the ice at 77o S, only 80 miles from their intended land base. It was April 1916 before they struggled ashore at Elephant Island.

The highlight of my cruise was a visit to Elephant Island. Here most of Shackleton's party had waited 4 winter months for rescue after Shackleton set sail for South Georgia in a 22 foot boat. Led by Frank Wild, they survived in a crude hut roofed by two upturned boats. James's notebook describing the scene inside the exceedingly cramped shelter is on display in the museum at the Scott Polar Institute. Crystallographers who find his treatise on X-ray diffraction tough reading may be surprised by his contribution to the camp singsongs. The chorus to his song 'Antarctic Architecture' ran:

My name is Frankie Wild-o and my hut's on Elephant Isle,

The wall's without a single brick and the roof's without a tile,

Yet nevertheless, you must confess by many and many a mile,

It's the most palatial place you'll find on Elephant Isle.

I viewed the 'palace' grounds in summer time. They are a bleak rocky spit under mountainous cliffs and a glacier with broken sea ice on both sides. We were unable to land.

James' most distinguished student is well known to the BCA: Sir Aaron Klug OM, President of the Royal Society and winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982 for his development of crystallographic electron microscopy and the structures of nucleic acid-protein complexes.

Durward Cruickshank

Editor's Note: I am planning some new BCA Web pages about ice, including the phase diagram and structures. Please send in your suggestions for URLs to which I can link.

Cover Story Continued

Letter from base

On 18 January 1998 Durward visited the Ukrainian Antarctic station, formerly the British Faraday station, shown on the cover of the envelope above. The stamp (top right) also depicts the station. This is where the original measurements were made which discovered the hole in the ozone layer. These were done using the uv spectrometer shown below.

Letter from base
Acknowledgment of Copyright
All the images in this file are copyright Durward Cruickshank. The BCA is gratful for permission to use them here to illustrate his article.

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