Antarctic Research Stations That Didn’t Survive

Maintaining a research station on the world’s coldest, harshest, and most remote continent requires many things: a scientific mandate to give it purpose; a continuous influx and exchange of personnel to prevent isolation-induced burnout; constant structural maintenance and restocking and supplies; and, most importantly, the government support and funding to keep them operating. While the…

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The Flannan Isles

Marooned all alone in the Atlantic Ocean are Scotland’s Flannan Isles, a very small and profoundly lonely archipelago that is isloated evey by the standard of the Outer Hebrides with which they are associated. The ‘isles’ are more like islets: seven small islands surrounded by a dozen or so outcrops of breccia rocks poking above…

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Christmas Islands Around the World

It’s June, which means it’s halfway to Christmas. Halfway, that is, unless you live in one of the numerous places around the world named for the holiday. Geody lists 171 places in its gazetteer with the word ‘Christmas’ in their name, including such places as Christmas Vlei, Namibia (a dry lake in the western portion…

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Bridges to Nowhere in Glasgow, Southern California, and New Zealand

Around the world, there are many structures nicknamed ‘bridges to nowhere’ – bridges that are abandoned during construction; bridges that have been partially destroyed and are left hanging in the air; bridges that are no longer used but remain standing; bridges that are built to service negligible populations and become settings for political bickering. Certainly…

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Svalbard: Google Street View, Pyramiden, and the Global Seed Vault

Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Source: HylgeriaK, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Longyearbyen_panorama_july2011.jpg. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence. This week saw the latest TBG article for Google Sightseeing commemorate the newly-released Google Street View imagery for the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard; the northernmost such imagery released to date (you can view the article here). The imagery begins in the picturesque world’s northernmost…

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Just Where is U2’s Joshua Tree?

This month, there’s been construction going on in the lot behind Basement Geographer HQ. In and amidst the sounds of hammers, saws, drills, and heavy machinery have been the sounds of the classic rock radio station the construction workers have been playing over their radios. As I headed out for a walk to the store…

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Alexander Selkirk and the Real-Life Island of Robinson Crusoe

For three centuries, people from around the world have been regaled by the tale of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, the 1719 tale of an Englishman who becomes a shipwrecked castaway for 27 years on an isolated island near the mouth of the Orinoco River.  While there is no ‘Island of Despair’ off the Venezuelan coast,…

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Smeerenburg: A 17th-Century European Ghost Town in the Arctic Ocean

If someone were to bring up a visit to a 17th-century European ghost town in conversation, one’s thoughts would probably turn to images of old stone farmhouses, an empty town square, or perhaps even a small castle.  An Arctic whale blubber processing station barely ten degrees south of the North Pole is probably not one…

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Isla Aves (Bird Island)

Source: Veronidae, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Isla_de_Aves_Venezuela_000.jpg. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence. Isla Aves (Spanish for ‘Island of the Birds’; commonly Bird Island or Aves Island in English) is a tiny speck of sand in the east Caribbean Sea, barely large enough and high enough to support a small field of grass, seabirds, and…

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The Tarim Desert Highway: Growing Bushes in the Desert

One of the most curious highways in the world is the Tarim Desert Highway.  Completed in 1995 across the heart of Xinjiang, China’s Taklamakan, the desert region that occupies the bulk of the Tarim Basin, the 552 km (343 mi) road is the longest road in the world built across a shifting-sand desert, with four-fifths…

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