Queen Alexandra Range - Goodwin Nunataks Area

The Queen Alexandra Range is an impressive range of mountains situated in the Beardmore Region of the Transantarctic Mountains with peaks rising to 4000 meters.  The Beardmore Glacier lies to the east and parallels the range; the Walcott Névé and Lewis Cliff areas are to the west.  At the head of the Walcott Névé, some 40 kilometers southeast of the Lewis Cliff Ice Tongue, are a series of ice patches, ice-cored moraines, and nunataks extending southwestward from the Queen Alexandra Range a distance of 15 kilometers to the Goodwin Nunataks (QUE18-Figure 1 - 130 KB JPEG).  The ice escarpment along which these features are situated begins turning northward at Goodwin Nunataks and continues to the Lewis Cliff, marking an apparent cirque rim which defines the Walcott Névé. QUE18-Figure 2 (63 KB JPEG) is an oblique aerial photograph of the Goodwin Nunataks area from the northeast. QUE18-Figure 3 (65 KB JPEG) is another air photo from the southwest. Three recent aerial views show the Mare Meteoriticus area (QUE18-Figure 4 - 31 KB JPEG), the Foggy Bottom area (QUE18-Figure 5 - 41 KB JPEG), and the ice patches around Goodwin Nunataks (QUE18-Figure 6 - 20 KB JPEG).

The Queen Alexandra Range icefields are the most prolific yet discovered by ANSMET. Large numbers of specimens have been found within the superglacial moraines and on ice areas upstream and downstream of the nunataks. A total of 3449 meteorite specimens have been recovered from these areas as a result of detailed systematic searches of the bare ice areas and the moraines.

The Goodwin Nunataks area was first visited during a reconnaissance search in the 1986-1987 field season.  Only one meteorite was recovered at that time, but many were seen.  In the 1987-1988 season searches were made of bare ice in the Gordon Valley area along the eastern edge of the Walcott Névé, 32 kilometers northeast of the Goodwin Nunataks. Two meteorites, QUE 87400 and QUE 87401, were discovered and collected.  Their approximate locations are shown on QUE18-Figure 1 (130 KB JPEG).

Systematic searching of the ice in the Goodwin Nunataks area began in the 1990-1991 season.  A total of 86 meteorite specimens were recovered from the nunataks around the Foggy Bottom site (an informal name) and from the next series of ice patches to the northeast.  ANSMET field parties returned during the 1993-1994 and the 1994-95 season for continued detailed searching at Foggy Bottom and ice patches close by.  Systematic searching was resumed during the 1997-98 season resulting in 1050 specimens being collected.  The icefield around Goodwin Nunatak was the focus of systematic searches during the 1999-2000 season, however the team also looked in areas that had previously been searched in the Foggy Bottom area and had good success.  A total of 913 meteorites were recovered. Final searches of the area during the 2002-2003 season yielded 90 additional specimens from the moraines and bare ice areas around Foggy Bottom and the ice patches around Goodwin Nunatak. QUE18-Figure 7 (46 KB JPEG) is a mosaic of vertical air photos with the meteorite positions overlaid showing their distribution.

QUE18-Table 1 gives a tabulation of the meteorite types recovered from the area.

Up until the 1999 season, the locations of most of the meteorites were determined by using the EDM and theodolite. GPS receivers were used to establish initial base station locations using differential techniques.  The locations of meteorites collected in 1990-1991 seasons were determined by GPS. Most of these points were re-surveyed during the 1993-1994 season.  Corrections were applied to the 1990 data in instances where they were not surveyed in order to bring them into a common reference frame.  The accuracies of these positions about plus or minus 30 meters at worst. From 1999 onwards, all meteorites positions were determined by differential GPS.

Acknowledgments; William Cassidy, Austin Marden, Louis Lindner,Keizo Yanai, Christian Koeberl, and John Schutt conducted the initial reconnaissance searches in the 1986-1987 season. William Cassidy, Joan Fitzpatrick, Robert Fudali, Ralph Harvey, John Schutt,and Faith Vilas reconnoitered the Gordon Valley area in 1987-1988.  Mario Burger, William Cassidy, and Robert Walker were members of the 1990-1991 field party.   The members of the 1993-1994 field party included Julius Dasch, Ralph Harvey, Candace Kohl, Thomas Meisel, Sara Russell, and John Schutt.  Members of the 1994-95 team were Harold Connolly, Otto Eugster, Ralph Harvey, Gary Lofgren, John Schutt, and Kees Welten.  The 1997-98 team consisted of Luann Becker, Gretchin Benedix, Marta Corbin, Ralph Harvey, Doug Middlefeldt, John Schutt, Tim Swindle, Mark Wieczorek, and Karl Wirth.  The 1999-2000 ANSMET team was made up of Phil Bland, Henning Haack, Ralph Harvey, Rene Martinez, Peter Pesch, Kevin Righter, John Schutt, and Andreas Wiegel.  Team members of the 2002-2003 expedition were Carl Allen, Andy Caldwell, Nancy Chabot, Dan Glavin, Dante Lauretta, Scott Messenger, Jaime Pierce, John Schutt, and Linda Welzenbach. Dale Benson, Larry Hothem, and Gordon Shupe of the U.S.Geological Survey and Bjorn Johns and Chuck Kurnick of UNAVCO provided valuable assistance and support with advice and the differential GPS data reduction.

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Page last updated: 05/23/2005