Mount Elkins

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Mount Elkins
Mount Elkins Map.jpg
Map of Antarctica indicating location of Mount Elkins
Highest point
Elevation 2,300 m (7,500 ft)
Coordinates 66°39′S 54°08′E / 66.650°S 54.133°E / -66.650; 54.133Coordinates: 66°39′S 54°08′E / 66.650°S 54.133°E / -66.650; 54.133
Location Enderby Land, East Antarctica
Parent range Napier Mountains
Age of rock 2837 million years (Archean eon)
Mountain type Metamorphic
First ascent 1960, by a survey party from Mawson Station which included Terence James Elkins, Sydney L. Kirkby, and Neville Joseph Collins
Easiest route basic snow/ice climb

Mount Elkins, also known as Jökelen (which means "The Glacier") is a dark, steep-sided mountain with three major peaks, the highest 2,300 meters (7,500 ft) above sea level, in the Napier Mountains of Enderby Land. Enderby Land part of East Antarctica, and is claimed by Australia as part of the Australian Antarctic Territory. The mountain was named after Terence James Elkins, an ionospheric physicist with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions at Mawson Station in 1960.[1][2]


Some notable geographic features in the general vicinity of Mount Elkins include Cape Batterbee (92 km to the north), the Young Nunataks (7.4 km to the south), Sørtoppen Nunatak (30 km to the east), the Newman Nunataks (26 km to the west), Mount McMaster (97 km to the west), and Mount Kjerringa (57 km to the northeast). The nearest permanently inhabited place is Mawson Station, an Australian research station to the southeast. Molodyozhnaya Station, a former Soviet research station which was mothballed in 1989, is located to the southwest of Mount Elkins.

Mount Elkins is the highest peak in the Napier Mountains. It is the second highest peak in Enderby Land, behind Mount McMaster, whose summit lies at 2830 metres above sea level.[3]

Geology & orogeny[edit]

Much of the East Antarctic craton was formed in the Precambrian period by a series of tectonothermal orogenic events.[4] Napier orogeny formed the cratonic nucleus approximately 4 billion years ago.[5] Mount Elkins is a classic example of Napier orogeny. Napier orogeny is characterized by high-grade metamorphism and plate tectonics. The orogenic events which resulted in the formation of the Napier Complex (including Mount Elkins) have been dated to the Archean Eon. Radiometrically dated to as old as 3.8 billion years, some of the zircons collected from the orthogneisses of the Napier Complex are among the oldest rock specimens found on Earth.[6] Billions of years of erosion and tectonic deformation have exposed the metamorphic rock core of these ancient mountains.

The oldest crustal components found to date in the Napier Complex appear to be of igneous derivation. This rock appears to have been overprinted by an ultra-high temperature metamorphic event (UHT) that occurred near the Archean-Proterozoic boundary. Using a lutetium-hafnium (Lu-Hf) method to examine garnet, orthopyroxene, sapphirine, osumilite and rutile from this UHT granulite belt, Choi et al determined an isochron age of 2.4 billion years for this metamorphic event.[6] Using SHRIMPU–Pb zircon dating methodology, Belyatsky et al determined the oldest tectonothermal event in the formation of the Napier Complex to have occurred approximately 2.8 billion years ago.[7]

Preservation of the UHT mineral assemblage in the analyzed rock suggests rapid cooling, with closure likely to have occurred for the Lu-Hf system at post-peak UHT conditions near a closure temperature of 800 °C. UHT granulites appear to have evolved in a low Lu-Hf environment, probably formed when the rocks were first extracted from a mantle profoundly depleted in lithophile elements. The source materials for the magmas that formed the Napier Complex were extremely depleted relative to the chondritic uniform reservoir (CHUR). These results also suggest significant depletion of the early Archean mantle, in agreement with the early igneous differentiation of the Earth that the latest core formation models require.[6]



To date, no flora has been observed at Mount Elkins.[2]


The following species have been sighted within 1.0 degrees of Mount Elkins:[2]

Scientific name Authority Common name Observations
Balaenoptera bonaerensis Burmeister, 1867 Antarctic minke whale (also known as the dark-shoulder minke whale)
Fulmarus glacialoides Smith,1840 Southern fulmar
Halecium banzare[8] Watson, 2008 Banzare hydroid
Halecium brevithecum[8] Watson, 2008 Brevithecate hydroid
Pagodroma nivea Forster,1777 Snow petrel
Pygoscelis adeliae Hombron and Jacquinot,1841 Adélie penguin
Thalassoica antarctica Gmelin,1789 Antarctic petrel

Significance to mountaineers[edit]

The summit of Mount Elkins is higher than that of any mountain in Australia—including even Mount Kosciuszko (2,228 metres), which is one of the Seven Summits. Because of its remoteness it has not become a popular target for peak bagging.

Weather conditions[edit]

The Napier Mountains run northwest from Mount Elkins. To the east is a large valley formed by the Robert and Wilma Glaciers. To the northeast are the Seaton and Rippon Glaciers. All of these glaciers run into the King Edward Ice Shelf. Other notable terrain features in this area include the Beaver Glacier, located to the west of Mount King. Collectively, these terrain features significantly modify weather produced by synoptic scale systems. Dramatic changes can occur over short distances and in short time intervals.[9][10]

Nearby terrain features[edit]

Place names within 1.0 degrees of Mount Elkins (Latitude 66°40.0'S Longitude 54°09.0'E)

Name Feature Latitude Longitude Distance Bearing
Aagaard Islands Island 65°51.0'S 53°40.0'E 93.4 km 346°
Armstrong Peak Peak 66°24.0'S 53°23.0'E 45.1 km 311°
Bandy Nunataks Nunatak 66°55.0'S 53°36.0'E 36.8 km 221°
Bird Ridge Ridge 66°47.0'S 55°04.0'E 42.3 km 108°
Bratthø Peak 66°39.0'S 54°40.0'E 22.8 km 086°
Cape Batterbee Cape 65°51.0'S 53°48.0'E 92.2 km 350°
Conradi Peak Peak 66°08.0'S 54°35.0'E 62.4 km 018°
Doyle Point Point 65°53.0'S 54°52.0'E 92.8 km 021°
Grimsley Peaks Peak 66°34.0'S 53°40.0'E 24.1 km 297°
Knausen Peak 66°22.0'S 53°13.0'E 53.1 km 308°
Mjåkollen Peak 66°33.0'S 53°28.0'E 32.8 km 293°
Mount Bennett Mountain 66°32.0'S 53°38.0'E 27.2 km 303°
Mount Breckinridge Mountain 66°37.0'S 53°41.0'E 21.3 km 285°
Mount Bride Mountain 66°26.0'S 53°57.0'E 27.4 km 341°
Mount Gate Mountain 66°51.0'S 53°18.0'E 42.5 km 241°
Mount Griffiths Mountain 66°28.0'S 54°01.0'E 23.0 km 345°
Mount Maines Mountain 66°38.0'S 53°54.0'E 11.6 km 288°
Mount Pasco Mountain 66°59.0'S 54°44.0'E 43.5 km 144°
Mount Stadler Mountain 66°54.0'S 53°14.0'E 47.8 km 237°
Napier Mountains Mountain 66°30.0'S 53°40.0'E 28.3 km 311°
Newman Nunataks Nunatak 66°40.0'S 54°45.0'E 26.4 km 090°
Proclamation Island Island 65°51.0'S 53°41.0'E 93.2 km 347°
Rabben Peak 66°27.0'S 54°07.0'E 24.1 km 356°
Skarvet Nunatak Nunatak 66°26.0'S 53°45.0'E 31.4 km 326°
Sørtoppen Nunatak Nunatak 66°40.0'S 53°28.0'E 30.1 km 270°
Tippet Nunataks Nunatak 66°44.0'S 53°15.0'E 40.3 km 259°
Vicars Island Island 65°50.0'S 54°29.0'E 93.9 km 009°
Wheeler Rocks Rock 66°17.0'S 55°08.0'E 61.0 km 046°
Wilkinson Peaks Peak 66°37.0'S 54°15.0'E 7.1 km 038°
Young Nunataks Nunatak 66°44.0'S 54°08.0'E 7.4 km 186°


Mount Elkins was first mapped by Norwegian cartographers from aerial photographs taken by the Lars Christensen Expedition, 1936–37, and named at that time Jökelen (The Glacier). It was remapped by ANARE from aerial photographs taken from an ANARE aircraft in 1956. The Napier Mountains were first visited by an ANARE survey party from Mawson Station in 1960. The survey party was led by Syd Kirkby, and included Terence James Elkins.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mount Elkins". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  2. ^ a b c Gazetteer of the Australian Antarctic Data Centre: Mount Elkins. Accessed 22 May 2010.
  3. ^ Slayden G (2004). "Major Peaks of the Enderby Land Coast". Retrieved 2010-11-26. 
  4. ^ Lloyd G, Gibson M. "Geochronology of the Transantarctic Mountains". Tectonics of the Transantarctic Mountains. London: self-published. Retrieved 2010-11-26. 
  5. ^ Lloyd G, Gibson M. "Crustal Formation sequence". Tectonics of the Transantarctic Mountains. London: self-published. Retrieved 2010-11-26. 
  6. ^ a b c Choi SH, Mukasa SB, Andronikov AV, Osanai Y, Harley SL, Kelly NM (2006). "Lu Hf systematics of the ultra-high temperature Napier Metamorphic Complex in Antarctica: Evidence for the early Archean differentiation of Earth's mantle". Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 246 (3-4): 305–16. Bibcode:2006E&PSL.246..305C. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2006.04.012. ISSN 0012-821X. 
  7. ^ Belyatsky, BV; Rodionov, NV; Sergeev, SA; Kamenev, EN (2007). Cooper, AK; Raymond, CR, eds. New evidence for the early Archaean evolution of Aker Peaks, Napier Mountains, Enderby Land (East Antarctica) (PDF). Antarctica: A Keystone in a Changing World—Online Proceedings for the 10th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences. Santa Barbara, California: U.S. Geological Survey. pp. 187.1–4. ISBN 978-0-309-11854-5. Retrieved 2010-11-26. 
  8. ^ a b Watson JE (2008). "Hydroids of the BANZARE expeditions, 1929–1931: the family Haleciidae (Hydrozoa, Leptothecata) from the Australian Antarctic Territory" (PDF). Memoirs of Museum Victoria. 65: 165–78. Retrieved 2010-11-26. 
  9. ^ Turner J, Pendlebury S (2004). "Section 7.6: Enderby Land and Kemp Land". In Turner, J; Pendlebury, S. The International Antarctic Weather Forecasting Handbook (PDF) (1st ed.). Cambridge,England: British Antarctic Survey. pp. 362–5. ISBN 1-85531-221-2. Retrieved 2010-11-26. 
  10. ^ "Current Weather Conditions near Mount Elkins". 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-26. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Douglas Mawson, the Survivor, by David Parer and Elizabeth Parer-Cook (Morwell, Victoria: Allela Books and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1983).
  • Antarctic Days with Mawson : A Personal Account of the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition of 1929-31, by Harold Fletcher (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1984).
  • Going to Extremes: Project Blizzard and Australia's Antarctic Heritage (Sydney: Doubleday, 1986).
  • International Law and Australian Sovereignty in Antarctica, by Gillian Triggs (Sydney: Legal Books Pty Ltd, 1986).
  • Antarctic Science, edited by DWH Walton, with contributions by CSM Doake, JR Dudley, I Everson and RM Laws (Cambridge; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
  • International Research in the Antarctic, by Richard Fifield (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, 1987).
  • Antarctica: The Next Decade: Report of a Group Study Chaired by Sir Anthony Parsons (Studies in Polar Research), edited by Sir Anthony Parsons (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
  • Mawson's Antarctic Diaries, edited by Fred and Eleanor Jacka (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1988).
  • Aurora Australis, edited by E.H. Shackleton (Sydney: Bay Books, 1988).
  • Sitting on Penguins: People and Politics in Australian Antarctica, by Stephen Murray-Smith (Surry Hills, NSW Hutchinson Australia, 1988).
  • Antarctica: The Extraordinary History of Man's Conquest of the Frozen Continent (Sydney: Reader's Digest, 1988).
  • A History of Antarctic Science, by G E Fogg (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
  • The Australian Geographic Book of Antarctica, by Keith Scott (Terrey Hills, New South Wales: Australian Geographic for the Australian Geographic Society, 1993).
  • A History of Antarctica, by Stephen Martin (Sydney: State Library of New South Wales Press, 1996).
  • The Home of the Blizzard: The Story of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-14, by Douglas Mawson (Kent Town, South Australia: Wakefield Press, 1996).
  • An Alien in Antarctica: Reflections upon Forty Years of Exploration and Research on the Frozen Continent, by Charles Swithinbank (Blacksburg, Virginia: McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, 1997).
  • A revised Archaean chronology for the Napier Complex, Enderby Land, from SHRIMP ion-microprobe studies, S.L. Harley and L.P. Black, Antarctic Science (1997), 9: 74-91 Cambridge University Press.
  • The Silence Calling: Australians in Antarctica 1947-97: the ANARE Jubilee history, by Tim Bowden (St Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin, 1997).
  • The Backpackers' Guide to ANARE Science (Kingston, Tas.: Australian Antarctic Division, 2000).
  • To the ends of the earth: the history of polar exploration, by Richard Sale (London: HarperCollins, 2002).
  • Voyage to the end of the world: Tales from the Great Ice Barrier, by David Burke (Annandale, NSW: Envirobook, 2002).
  • Australian Antarctic science: the first 50 years of ANARE, edited by Harvey J. Marchant, Desmond J. Lugg and Patrick G. Quilty (Kingston, Tas.: Australian Antarctic Division, 2002).
  • End of the Earth: voyages to Antarctica, by Peter Matthiessen (National Geographic Society, 2003).

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document "Mount Elkins" (content from the Geographic Names Information System).