National Geographic : 1899 Jun
230 THE BELGIAN ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION In October, 1898, an outlet opened about 600 meters distant, but im mediately around the ship the floe continued unbroken. As summer was passing very quickly and a second winter seemed imminent, at the beginning of January, 1899, De Gerlache determined to dig a canal to this outlet. The measurements made by the sounding line in dicated an average thickness of ice of one meter, but around the vessel it exceeded two meters. Something like 2,500 to 3,000 cubic meters of ice were excavated, and this work, in which every one took part, lasted for three weeks. By February there only remained the blocks immediately adjacent to the Belgica, but the pressure increased; the canal just com pleted contracted, and at the same time the outlet in which it ended closed up. Eleven days later, however, the pack opened sufficiently for them to advance fifteen or sixteen miles toward the north, when they were again blocked. But the dark sky in the north and the perceptible swelling of the sea were a sure sign that in this direction there was a grand expanse of water, and perhaps the open sea. During the winter the Belgica had only once suffered dangerous pressure; only for a few moments had she ever been in danger, but now continually battered by the great blocks of ice wedged against her by the swelling sea, the little vessel was in a very dangerous situation. Fortunately, the pack opened again March 14, and this time they were able to gain the open sea and return to Punta Arenas. Captain De Gerlache concludes his report as follows: "Upon our escape from the pack, we were about 103° west longitude, so that the general drift was found to be 18° toward the west by about 70° 31 / average lati tude. We had seen no signs of the land given in the charts at 700 south and 1000 west. It is furthermore worthy of remark that our drifting, which was almost as rapid toward the south before the north wind as it had been toward the north before the south wind, as well as the sound ings which we made whenever the weather permitted, carries several degrees toward the south the hypothetical contours of the austral conti nent in this part of the Antarctic zone. During this winter, the first that has been passed in the midst of austral ice, we were able to conduct satis factory magnetic operations, to form an important series of meteorological polar observations, and to make a good collection of specimens of pelagic and abyssal fauna, as well as of specimens of submarine deposit." CORRECTION AN error in the obituary sketch of Professor O. C. Marsh in the May number of the Magazine (page 181), regrettable in itself and unjust to an educational institution whence several distinguished geographers have been sent forth, requires correction. " The Phillips-Exeter Academy at Andover" should read the Phillips Academy at Andover. The error was unthinkingly transcribed from the usually accurate Scientific American, vol. lxxx, page 201. WJM.