The Area is a valuable resource for understanding landscape processes.
The Area is a valuable resource for understanding landscape processes. The Valleys have been carved out by glaciers which have retreated, exposing valley floors and walls on a scale not found elsewhere in Antarctica. These typically have a desert pavement surface – a top layer of boulders, gravels and pebbles which is weathered and wind-sorted. The underlying soils are up to five million years old with very little organic carbon and nitrogen and a poorly developed profile (i.e. few distinct soil layers). Typically lower layers are cemented by ice. Unusual and interesting surface deposits in the region include marine sediments, sand dunes and ash. The extent of ice-free ground within the region allows scientists to access features which give important clues to past conditions as well as current geological processes.
Image: Dais and Wright Valley, Lake Vanda from Asgard Range © Andris Apse, Antarctica NZ Pictorial Collection: K211 07/08