Friday, April 1, 2011

Impending Antarctic expedition may face unknown dangers

So maybe you've heard about the recent Russian expedition in the Antarctic where they found a liquid lake buried deep under the ice.  Recently viruses that eat other viruses were found in its waters, and American scientists are preparing an expedition to where they suspect an even larger underground lake may be found, at around 87 degrees South, 116 degrees West.  What many do not know is that this expedition will take the team very close to the mountains where all but two of the crew of the 1930-1931 expedition from Massachusetts died.  

From what records remain, the little-known expedition landed in Marie Byrd Land (refer to the map above) and trekked towards the the Transantarctic Mountains.  The expedition was one of the first where the technology existed for the crew to carry a drill capable of reaching hundreds of feet below the ice.  Such drills had existed before, but they were previously too large to carry on a half-year expedition deep into the last continent.  From the records geologist William Dyer and his intern returned with, it appears that near the tremendously high foothills of the Transantarctic Range, a hollow chamber was discovered below the ice.

In this cave a great variety of fossils were found, including a wide range of organisms which, on other continents, were only found in separate strata.  Samples brought back by Dr. Dyer have since been dated using various radiometric clocks, and it has been found that, rather than the more recent organisms appearing earlier in this region, the more primordial invertebrates flourished for a much longer period here, when they had long gone extinct on other continents.

While this may appear to throw doubt onto the Gondwana hypothesis, a few similar colossal invertebrate fossils from 200 million years ago and before have been found in southern Australia and South America.  Religious thinkers opposing evolution tend to ignore the evidence from the 1930-31 expedition due to its being little-known, but it does cast some doubt on the current evolutionary narrative, while not the theory itself.

Dr. William Dyer and a stone relief he discovered, along with a trusty canine companion.

Most interesting of the discoveries on this expedition, which led to many scientists dismissing the entirety of Dr. Dyer's evidence as fraud, were rubbings and photographs of a great number of bas-reliefs the geologist claimed to have found in a 'great city' high in the Transantarctic Range.  These images are often used by advocates of the ancient astronaut notion as evidence of their beliefs, though none of the images seem to depict the invertebrate entities arriving from any extraterrestrial origins.  

The primary reason for the dismissal of Dr. Dyer's findings was the madness he succumbed to upon his return to civilization.  Before he was fully in the throes of paranoid schizophrenia, he claimed that underground expeditions to this region of the frozen continent were prone to mortal danger.  He published a record of his journeys in 1931, but the periodical soon went out of print.  Since the publication several authors have written fictional narratives of the 1930-31 expedition, most notably Howard Phillips Lovecraft's novel At the Mountains of Madness, which was written quite soon after the article's publication in a rather brief period, but little is known of what Dr. Dyer actually encountered in these regions.  

Lovecraft's version of the tale, which has outlived the scientific publication by Dyer himself, incorporates a variety of entities from his other tales. In a 1937 letter soon before his death, the author claimed the geologist allowed him to see a few of his private rubbings in 1932 a few months before Dyer's own death, and that these inspired many of his later stories.

With the coming expedition, headed by staff from UCLA, perhaps we may get to see firsthand what lies in those regions near the Transantarctic Mountains below the glacial plate.  Technology has certainly advanced since the expedition of the 1930s, and satellites will allow for data to be directly streamed to the mainland from the expedition crew in real-time.  Get ready to tune in in September when the crew arrives at the Ross Ice Shelf.  

5 comments:

  1. That is freaky, there could be ancient lifeforms still living under the ice. This is comparable to the oceans of water under the ice of Europa. I hope they find something interesting and they do not cover it up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never believed it. It is a cool story though.

    ReplyDelete
  3. sounds pretty cool. ANd I love Lovecraft's Yarns! We could awaken some ancient slumbering evil that will arise and bring madness and suffering to humanity!

    ReplyDelete
  4. i like your blog. keep up the good work

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hadnt heard about this, so the search for the antarctic miseries continue

    ReplyDelete