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South Polar Expediton

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Thore appears to bc a rivalry spnngnig up betwoen the North Polo and the South as to whioh can offer tho greutest attractions to tho explorare. Hitherto the North Pole has buen the most popular, partly because it baa been the neuiest to those nations t'rom which the exploréis collie, and there are at present no fower than seven oxpeditions in the Arctio región endeavormg to solve tho niystery ui' the great Polar Sea. Of these, oue is French, one Ameiiean, onc Austriat:, one Prussian, two Norweffiau and oue Kussian. It wül be noticed that Englaiid has withdrawn from this field of' exploration wherein her navigators have distinguishod themselves trom tho daya of Cauot, Baffin, Davis and Sooresby, down to thoso of Fraaklin, MeClure and McClintock. She hits now turned her attention to the Antarctic región, are aceessible in direct Unes trow i'our of lier colunies, viz. : tho Cupe of üood Hope, Australia, New Zeahtud and the Falkland Isiands. Sh; has chartered the Challenger, a vessel of 1,400 tons, and fitted her out tor a three yoars' voyage of cxplorations and deep sea eouplings, unJer tlie diroction of scientitio men, and attention wül bc first given to the Southern Pacific Ucean. This vast portion of the eurth's surface lis no'. been investigated as it ought to liavo been. Tlie Spanish and Portugese exploréis sailed through the Straits oi Magollau in the fifteenth century, but they seeined to have considered tnat far enougli south, or clse to havo thought the best thmg they could do would be to get to India as soon as possible, and so they steered in that direction, northwest, accidental ly discovering island alter island on the way. Thus it happened that until the year 1616, when the Dutch navigator Van Schouten discoveied Cape Hom and gave itits present name, no one had vfcntured further south ; but when he lid the way others followed, Hnd it was soon found that the prevalent idea of geographers, that the Antarctic regions were oecupied by a vast ice-bound continent, was not wholly without foundation. Tasmnn, Dampier, Cook, and other navigators, visited those regions, but, thongh they diseovered Australia, New Zealand, Van Diernan's Land and other isiands, they did not contribute much to the world's knowledge of the South Polar Cirele. It was not until the present century that any material progress was made. In 1819 a British brig diseovered the isiands now knovvn as Palmer's Land and the South ürkneys. After that they were fiequently uited by whalers. In the same year (1819) tiie Kussiali Government sent out an expedition under Captains Lazaren and Bellinghausen, and those iutrepid expiorers almost circuinnavigated the houth Pole at an average d staoce of tliirty degrees, and examiuud a portion of the Polar Cirele. They also diseovered the first continental land there and named it Alexander Land. This appeared to be a cape belonging to a large continent ; it wascouiplelely locked in ico Frora that time to 1840 scvcral Ameri Ottll, Freneh and Engiish expeditions wore sent out to those regions, which ascertained that thore existod within the South Polar Circle a vacatit continent. Lieutenant Wilber, of the United States Nvy, sailed more than 1,300 miles along side of a wall ot' ico 150 to 200 feet I high, beyond whiob at many points rose bigh niouutainous land. In 1842 Sir James Eoss discovered South Victoria Land, whereon was a lofly volcano, 12,000 fe;t high, now known as Muunt Erobus ; but Liis further progress was checked by an immense continuous wall of ice, above which could be seen in tho far distunou mouutain peaks of great hoight, covered with snow. It is one of thosingulurities of tliis portion of tho earth's surface, containing an area doublé that of Europe, that it exhibits no sign of animal, marine or vegetable lite. In the soa itself hfe seems extinet, unless the dep soundings shall reveal some at the buttom of the ocean. But it appesrs from the soundiugs taken by Sir James lioss, that the Antarctic waters ure generally shallow, coinpitratively speaking. The depth rarely exoeeds 400 fathoms, or 2.400 feet (not halt a mile), and it was ordinarily only froiu 200 to 300 i'athoms, while in sonie spots in the Atlantic Ocean thc deaptli is 15,U00 feet. At one point oiï the eoast ot Brazii Sir James lloss failed to touch ground at 27,000 futt, or ó 1-2 miles, and ut 0D6 spot in the Antarctic Ocean ht failed at 24,000.


Old News
Michigan Argus