Using the Blog

I am using this Blog to talk about my Web Site - Scott's Northern Party 1911-1913 - - and about items of interest relating to it. From time to time, as I find new material, I will update the existing web pages. When this happens, I shall use this Blog to let you know of significant changes.


Photograph Interpretation: Boomerang Glacier SPRI Photo P48-14-94

The following is my interpretation of photograph  p48-14-94 from the SPRI – Freezeframe  collection. 

Figure 1 - Photograph p48-14-94 SPRI Freezeframe.

My description of scene.
This is a view from the moraine at the southern most corner looking west into Boomerang Glacier. The glacier curving to the right appears to disappear below a distant peak.   The three people in the centre are  Campbell and two others.  This group, the first to venture up  the Boomerang Glacier, were  either setting out or returning from checking  the glacier’s suitability as a route for sledges.  The photograph was taken  on 13 January, 1912 probably by Levick.

FreezeFrame Documentation accompanying the photo.
Reference: P48/14/94
Title: Beehive Nunatak at entrance to Boomerang Glacier
Description: glass plate negative
Collection: British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13 (Levick Collection)
Summary text: Three expedition members in the far distance walk over a flat ice field towards a conical shaped hill. Mountains and glacier in the background.
Date: 1911
Keywords: glaciers mountains
Location: Antarctica, Ross Dependency
Photographer: Levick, George Murray P

What was happening.
The night of 12 January 1912 The Northern Party camped on the moraine at the entrance of the Boomerang glacier. The next day was clear and while Priestley and Levick looked at the rocks in the moraine, Campbell headed up the glacier to see if it was a suitable route for sledges.   
Neither Campbell in his diary or Priestley and Lambert in their books mention Campbell being accompanied up the Boomerang Glacier.  However it is safe to assume that he was accompanied by one or more of Abbott, Browning or Dickason.  From the photograph, taken from or close to the site of  their 12 January camp , three people can be seen, I assume Campbell and two others. Campbell  headed  up the glacier on the morning of  13 January, 1912  to verify it suitability as a sledge route to Wood Bay.

Position from where the photo was taken.
The photograph was taken  from the moraine at the south side of the entrance to the Boomerang Glacier.
The following composite is a Google Earth view of the entrance to the Boomerang Glacier showing the coverage of the photograph P48-14-94 (green triangle) and the position of the camera (at the apex of the triangle).   All the hills in the photograph, except the peak on the right marked by the slanting red arrow, are  on the edges of  the Boomerang Glacier. The marked peak is some miles to the west of the glacier.

Figure 2 - Google Earth image with photograph superimposed

 The following photograph shows the moraine, from the foreground of  p48-14-94, and the approximate position of the camp on the night of 12 January.   From this camp, looking up the glacier, the nunatak (small pyramid like object right foreground)  would be in centre view as seen in the photograph p48-14-94.

Figure 3 - Looking down the Browning Pass with the Boomerang Glacier on the right.
(SPRI p48-14-173 with additional text).
Date Photo was taken13 January, 1912.  
The night of 12 January 1912 The Northern Party camped on the moraine at the entrance of the Boomerang glacier. The next day was clear and while Priestley and Levick looked at the rocks in the moraine, Campbell headed up the glacier to ascertain if it was a suitable route for sledges.  
The Photographer—Levick or  Priestley. 
Both  were the  searching the moraine while Campbell and two others headed up the glacier.  SPRI state  the photograph was taken on a glass plate negative.  As most of Priestley’s photographs were on plastic file then this photograph was probably taken by Levick. 

Associated photos
The picture p48-14-94 with P56-16-271 forms a panorama. The large vertical rock  with snow appearing to climb up it,  right foreground,  appears in both photos.  The photos first need to be scaled. This can be done by making the height of the bluff above the snow field equal in both photos. Then the  following panorama can be created:

Figure 4 - Panorama from photographs p48-14-94 and P54-16-271 SPRI Freezeframe.


Sketch Interpretation: Looking towards Mt. Melbourne by Victor Campbell.

The following is my interpretation of the Victor Campbell sketch titled ‘View from Mt. North of Boomerang Glacier showing route we first proposed taking’. The sketch resides in the Victor Campbell Archive held in the Queen Elizabeth II  Library at the Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Fig 1 -  The sketch drawn by Victor Campbell on 19 January, 1912
From Campbell’s diary we know that on 19 January, 1912 the Northern Party was  blocked from preceding any further up the Browning Pass by steep ice falls.   Here, Campbell and Priestley climbed the north side slopes to obtain a better view of the way ahead.  The sketch  drawn during the climb shows  the view looking NNE towards Mount Melbourne.  

The writing on the sketch starting from the top left and rotating clockwise is:
  • Black rocky ridge;
  • Wood Bay;
  • Mt. Melbourne;
  • Pass I had hoped to get over to Wood Bay; 
  • Ice falls + broken ice doubtful if sledges could be got over;
  • Melbourne and arrow (this point down the Browning Pass which at the time they referred to as the Melbourne Glacier);
  • View from Mt. North of Boomerang Glacier showing route we first proposed taking
  • slightly crevassed  too steep to get sledges over.
  • Ice slopes below rock ridges;
  • Ridges Priestley climbed Ice slopes below Rock ridges.
 I determined the position from where the sketch was drawn using Campbell’s diary entry for the15 January, and using Google Earth  to  match some of the features from the sketch to features in the satellite photographs.  The following image demonstrates the method used.

Fig 2 - Image from Google Earth
This Google Earth image shows Mt. Melbourne (top right), the top of the Browning Pass, and the Boomerang Glacier (bottom left). Marked on the image are four points from the sketch( yellow pins), the angle of view (blue triangle), and the area obscured by higher intervening land (green free hand enclosure).

The position from where Campbell made the sketch is indicated by the apex of the triangle.  From this location Campbell is looking across some high land and sees ice-falls and broken ice (centre of Google Earth image outside the green enclosure, but inside the blue angle of view line), then Mt. Melbourne, just as he sketched.

From this position, it is possible to check what  Campbell and Priestley could have seen or more importantly what they could not see.  Once again, using Google Earth and looking at the elevation of intervening land, I have been able to plot  the approximate area that was hidden from their view.  This was done by drawing lines radiating from their position and  studying cross section elevations.  

One such plot is shown using the ‘Show elevation profile’ option in Google Earth. 

Fig 3 - Google Earth image including elevation plot
 The line marked Visible1a and 1b is drawn from Campbell’s location. The elevations along this line was generated within Google Earth.  On the elevation plot, a line is drawn from Campbell’s position touching the next highest point and extended out until it again touches land (sea in this case).  These two points are then marked on image (balloons with numbers). The space between these two points is hidden to the observer.

As shown in the next image, repeating this process allows the plot of the area that was not visible to Campbell and Priestley because of the intervening terrain.

Fig 4 - Google Earth image showing obscured area.
 The green enclosure is that area hidden from view and again the apex of the triangle is their position.  The inner green plot encloses some elevated terrain that would have be visible.

My Conclusions
First, the sketch was drawn on 19 January, 1912.

Secondly, looking at the area that was hidden from them, it can  be seen that from their position:
  1. they could see a glacier (they referred to as the Melbourne Glacier) flowing down towards the pass they had come up;
  2. they could not see the glacier continuing past them to the sea.

Fig 5 -Map of the area
Thus even though they were now much closer to the glacier, they had nothing to indicate that their first impression on leaving the Terra Nova  was wrong.  They still thought, as shown on the map, that a large glacier flowed from Mount Melbourne, around the west side,  down the pass they had just travelled along, then joint with other glaciers exiting to the sea at Hell’s Gate or beyond.  They were under the impression that for the last few days they had been on this glacier they referred to as the Melbourne Glacier.