View of the Transantarctic Mountains in northern Victoria Land
|Highest peak||Mount Kirkpatrick ( )|
The mountain range crosses the entire continent of Antarctica between the west coast of the Ross and the east coast of the Weddell Sea , hence the name. It reaches heights of over 4500 m. The mountain ridge, between 100 and 300 km wide, forms the border between East Antarctica and West Antarctica over long stretches . The peaks of the mountains are some of the few places where the ice sheet covering the continent is broken. However, the Transantarctic Mountains are not exposed everywhere, but are completely covered in places by the ice sheet. The dry valleys near the McMurdo station represent a special Antarctic phenomenon : tracts of land that are free of snow and ice because there is practically no precipitation in them.
With a length of around 3500 km, the Transantarctic Mountains are the fifth longest mountain range on earth . Sometimes the mountains of the Antarctic Peninsula are also included; this results in a total length of approximately 4800 km. The highest mountain is Mount Kirkpatrick, 4528 m high .
The Transantarctic Mountains are considerably older than other mountain ranges on the continent that are of volcanic origin (although the mountains themselves also have some volcanic parts). Its unfolding began around 65 million years ago in the Cenozoic . The mountains are mainly composed of sand and dolerite stones , some of which were formed more than 400 million years ago (from the Silurian ). The mountains, fossils and geological drillings (e.g. in the Cape Roberts Project ) that are not under ice have helped scientists to learn more about the history of the formation of the Antarctic continent and its central role in the supercontinent Gondwana .
The name "Transantarctic Mountains" was recommended in 1962 by the Antarctic Name Advisory Committee of the US Geographic Names Authority. This purely descriptive name (in contrast to many other geographical names of the sixth continent, which often honor famous personalities) is now internationally recognized.
- Mountains of the Viktorialand
- Prince Albert Mountains
- Queen Alexandra Range
- Queen Maud Mountains
- Horlick Mountains
- Thiel Mountains
- Pensacola Mountains