Ross Island

Coordinates: 77°30′S 168°00′E / 77.500°S 168.000°E / -77.500; 168.000
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Ross Island
Ross Island, Antarctica. Topographical map, scaled one to two hundred and fifty thousand. Sourced from the United States Geological Survey
Map of Ross Island
Ross Island is located in Antarctica
Ross Island
Ross Island
Coordinates77°30′S 168°00′E / 77.500°S 168.000°E / -77.500; 168.000
ArchipelagoRoss Archipelago
Area2,460 km2 (950 sq mi)
Highest elevation3,794 m (12448 ft)
Highest pointMount Erebus
Administered under the Antarctic Treaty System
PopulationAt least 100

Ross Island is an island formed by four volcanoes in the Ross Sea near the continent of Antarctica, off the coast of Victoria Land in McMurdo Sound. Ross Island lies within the boundaries of Ross Dependency, an area of Antarctica claimed by New Zealand.



Sir James Ross discovered it in 1840, and it was later named in honour of him by Robert F. Scott.

Ross Island was the base for many of the early expeditions to Antarctica. It is the southernmost island reachable by sea. Huts built by Scott's and Shackleton's expeditions are still standing on the island, preserved as historical sites.

Today Ross Island is home to New Zealand's Scott Base, and the largest Antarctic settlement, the U.S. Antarctic Program's McMurdo Station. Greenpeace established World Park Base on the island and ran it for five years, from 1987 to 1992.


South end of Ross Island, with Observation Hill at the center of the image, between McMurdo Station and Scott Base. To the right is Crater Hill visible.
Aerial view of the tip of Hut Point Peninsula with McMurdo Station on the near side and Scott Base on the far side

Because of the persistent presence of the ice sheet, the island is sometimes taken to be part of the Antarctic mainland. Its area is 2,460 square kilometres (950 sq mi); only a small portion of the island is free of ice and snow.

The planet's southernmost active volcano, Erebus (3,794 m or 12,448 ft), as well as the dormant volcano Terror (3,230 m or 10,597 ft), are situated on the island. They were named by Captain James Ross after his ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. The third highest elevation is Mount Bird, with Shell Glacier and Endeavour Piedmont Glacier on its slopes. Abbott Peak stands between Mount Erebus and Mount Bird. Gamble Cone and Kyle Cone stand in the east of the island.[1] Beeby Peak is 4.4 kilometres (2+38 nautical miles) east-northeast of the summit of Mount Bird. The Erebus hotspot is thought responsible for the island's volcanic activity.

Despite its relatively small size, Ross Island is the world's 6th highest island and the highest island in Antarctica. It has the highest average elevation of any island.[citation needed]


Many features on or near Ross Island have been charted and named by various survey and exploration groups.

Mount Erebus is the island's most prominent landmark. Hut Point Peninsula, the site of McMurdo Station (US) and Scott Base (New Zealand), projects southwest from its lower slopes. Barne Glacier projects off its western slopes. To the north of Mount Terror are the Kienle Nunataks.

The far eastern point of the island is called Cape Crozier. On the west side of the island is rocky Cape Evans, which forms the north side of Erebus Bay.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ LeMasurier, W. E.; Thomson, J. W., eds. (1990). Volcanoes of the Antarctic Plate and Southern Oceans. American Geophysical Union. p. 512. ISBN 0-87590-172-7.

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