Yesterday, a small group of us were able to go visit the Erebus ice caves near the Erebus Ice Tongue. The Erebus Ice Tongue is an outlet glacier that originates on the western slope of Mt. Erebus. The ice tongue flows down and into the McMurdo Sound where it meets the sea ice. Ice tongues form around Antarctica when some portions of the glacier ice, in this case the Erebus Ice Tongue, flows faster than the ice surrounding it.
The Erebus Ice Tongue is about 11-12 km long and is approximately 10 meters high. However, the ice tongue itself changes in shape and size due to changes in the internal stresses in the ice and external forces like snow accumulation. Every year, the sea ice around the Erebus Ice Tongue melts, allowing for waves and tides to carve holes and ridges into the tip of the ice tongue. These holes, in addition to ice crevasses, form the Erebus ice caves.
I visited the ice caves last year and the cave itself was quite different. This year, the ice cave was smaller and deeper. After visiting again, I can certainly see that the Erebus Ice Tongue is a dynamic, unique place. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to visit such stunning places.
Enjoy these pictures from inside the ice cave.