February 8, 2012

Thursday, 8 February 1912


In a spell of calm and sunshine after weeks of cold Plateau winds, Scott sent Bowers on ski towards Mount Darwin to collect rock samples. "He obtained several specimens, all of much the same type, a close-grained granite rock which weathers red. Hence the pink limestone." [1]

"The moraine was obviously so interesting," Scott went on in his old manner, "that when we had advanced some miles and got out of the wind, I decided to camp and spend the rest of the day geologising. It has been extremely interesting. We found ourselves under perpendicular cliffs of Beacon sandstone, weathering rapidly and carrying veritable coal seams. From the last Wilson, with his sharp eyes, has picked several plant impressions, the last a piece of coal with beautifully traced leaves in layers, also some excellently preserved impressions of thick stems, showing cellular structure. In one place we saw the cast of small waves on the sand. To-night Bill has got a specimen of limestone with archeo-cyathus -- the trouble is one cannot imagine where the stone comes from; it is evidently rare, as few specimens occur in the moraine. There is a good deal of pure white quartz. Altogether we have had a most interesting afternoon, and the relief of being out of the wind and in a warmer temperature is inexpressible. I hope and trust we shall all buck up again now that the conditions are more favourable. We have been in shadow all the afternoon, but the sun has just reached us, a little obscured by night haze. A lot could be written on the delight of setting foot on rock after 14 weeks of snow and ice and nearly 7 out of sight of aught else. It is like going ashore after a sea voyage."

"The specimens collected by [Wilson] and Lt. Bowers," Debenham later wrote, "are perhaps the most important of all the geological results [of the expedition]. The plant fossils collected by this party are the best preserved of any yet found in this quadrant of the Antarctic, and are of the character best suited to settle a long-standing controversy between geologists as to the nature of the former union between Antarctica and Australasia." [2]

"To-day have been very favourable and fine," wrote Lashly, "we had a good breeze and set sail after lunch. If we get a good day to-morrow we hope to reach One Ton. Mr. Evans have passed a good deal of blood to-day, which makes things look a lot worse. I have to do nearly everything for him now." [3]


[1] R.F. Scott, diary, 8 February, 1912, quoted in Scott's Last Expedition, v.1.
[2] Frank Debenham, quoted by David Crane in Scott of the Antarctic (New York : Knopf, c2005), p.493.
[3] William Lashly, diary, 8 February, 1912, quoted by Apsley Cherry-Garrard in The Worst Journey in the World, ch.XII.

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