Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/222

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Lands; (2) the division south of the Pacific from Ross's Sea to Alexander Land; (3) the Graham Land with its associated archipelagoes and the Weddell Sea that separates it from the western end of Wilkes Land.

As the first essential to the scientific investigation of a country is some acquaintance with its general topography, the primary factor in determining the work of the expeditions is the grade of our geographical knowledge of their fields of operations.

Geographical knowledge of the Antarctic is at present on two grades; in some areas the pioneer exploration has been done as far as concerns work at sea; of other areas we know nothing. Our knowledge is of the first grade in respect to only two or three areas; they are Graham Land with its associated islands and the coast of Victoria Land with the adjacent Ross Sea; perhaps we should also include in this category the northern shore of Wilkes Land, though it is known only at intervals and one of its most important areas, the angle between it and Victoria Land, is quite unknown. The rest of the Antarctic regions is on the second grade; the shores of the Weddell Sea have never been sighted; the western termination of Wilkes Land is quite hypothetical; speculations as to the area to the south of the Pacific are dependent on general considerations and the interpretation of a couple of distant and imperfectly recorded views.

Accordingly the plan of operations of each expedition should be dependent on the extent of our geographical knowledge of its field of operations. The English expedition has the advantage of a well-known entry into its central area, in which the most fruitful work will be scientific observations taken with the highest degree of accuracy and in the fullest detail. For pioneer geographical work it will be dependent on sledge expeditions inland, and at sea on how far it can push eastward from the Ross Sea into the southern Pacific.

The German expedition on the other hand goes into the region of which our ignorance is most complete. Its first work will therefore be pioneer geographical exploration, on the basis of which its expert scientific staff can found the observations that will be made concurrently. The expedition starts from the French island of Kerguelen where a base station and observatory have been established. Thence the 'Gauss' will sail due southward toward the supposed western end of Wilkes Land, and enter the ice near Enderby Land. Thenceforth its progress will depend on the character of that region. The general idea is to work slowly southwestward into the Weddell Sea, sending out sledge expeditions to explore any lands that may be seen. The proposed route of the ship has the drawback that it may be contrary to the prevalent drift of the ice and currents. Accordingly the expedition has been equipped on the expectation of a long, slow battle