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The icebergs of Antarctica are absurdly beautiful

Wander over to Mark's Flickr page, and one thing you'll notice about his Antarctica pictures is they are dominated by shot after exquisite shot of towering icebergs.

And they were towering. Some of the huge floating chunks of ice can be the size of a city, easily visible from space.

The ones Mark encountered were not quite that large, but still. If that zodiac looked small beside a humpback whale, you'd barely notice it in longer shots when set against these water-borne ice mountains.


And that's just the portion you can see, given that no more than 10 per cent the mass of a given berg is visible above the waves at any time.

Calved from the continent's mighty glaciers that slowly, and unstoppably, push staggering amounts of ice to the sea, there is understandably no shortage of them.

But we weren't prepared for just how otherworldly some of them looked.

So many of them, when viewed up close, just don't fit the standard, popular image of a jagged but shapeless chunk of ice drifting with the waves. 

The one above features a small pool of meltwater looking drab against the vivid blues of its parent.

And the one below - with the tidal motion against it, the lower half looks like it was moulded by hand, rather than a natural phenomenon.

And the one below looks like it's actually bleeding blue ink into the water.

We know it's just a trick of the light. Beneath that patch of "blue water" is another portion of the berg, and the vivid hue is just the sunlight refracting differently due to the difference in water depth.

And at the glacier's mouth itself, sometimes the ice cracks just right to make a fissure look less like a a simple rupture, and more like a cavernous entrance to some icy kingdom.

So much of what we've seen so far is based in the sea, or just along the shores of a vast but desolate continent.

But as Mark saw, and we see also, desolation can be beautiful in itself.

Antarctica itself is stunning

Zoom out and look up from the teeming sea and giant icebergs, and you'll see an untouched continent.

Antarctica is mountainous, and even has volcanoes, but most people wouldn't be able to recognize the continent's jagged peaks. They're just not in the public mind.

You can drift in the shadow of impressive peaks even when simply passing through the Lemaire Strait.

With views like that, you can see why Antarctic cruises are so popular.

We're a little envious of Mark, having a backdrop like that to shoot against.

And that's just when he GOT to Antarctica. 

The sunsets over the Southern Ocean while en route seemed to have been spectacular enough all on their own.

And the expedition got a great taste of what was to come just before they left the shores of South America.

The genesis of many an Antarctic jaunt is Ushuaia, on the Argentine half of Tierra del Fuego, the Americas' most southern tip.

People in the city live and work against a backdrop of their own mountain view, the southern extreme of the great Andes.

We regret we weren't able to tag along with Mark and George. We'll have to settle for living vicariously through that Flickr account.


UNEARTHED: Catch more of Mark and George's Antarctic adventures in Sunday night's premiere episode of "Unearthed" at 7 p.m. Eastern.



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