Australian Antarctic Territory’s new names

By Jared Richards 13 July 2016
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28 previously unnamed islands and features in the Australian Antarctic Territory have been given imaginative crowd-sourced titles.

CROCODILE, URANUS, RHINO and The Cauldron; these are four of the 28 newly named islands and geographical features in the Australian Antarctic Territory, which covers almost 5.9 million square kilometres.

The Australian Antarctic Division’s Place Names Committee enlisted the help of the public for the new names for 17 islands and 11 features. The committee meets roughly once a year to consider new names, largely submitted by scientists and expeditioners who have visited the area. Most are named after a distinctive resemblance – say with Rhino, Dagger or Crocodile Islands – although some take a more prosaic approach to describing their geological form or positioning.

Sunset over Wilkins aerodrome. (Photo credit: Gordon Tait/Australian Antarctic Division 2015)

Complexity Head, for example, is named for the point’s layered gneisses (a kind of banded metamorphic rock), which fold over in intricate patterns, while Uranus and Neptune Islands are named after their isolated and difficult to reach positions.

Some area names reference historic moments or act as tributes to individuals. The Carey Nunatak is an exposed snow-free ridge named after Australian geologist Samuel Warren Carey AO, the founding professor of geology at the University of Tasmania and an early pioneer of the theory of continental drift. The somewhat dramatically named Rescue Island references its role in providing a place to pause for a rescue operation to assess sea conditions before moving onwards towards three scientists stranded on Torckler Island in February 1983.

Davis Research Station, showing Abatus Bay area (top right). (Photo credit: David Barringhaus/Australian Antarctic Division 2012)

The full list of Territory place names is recorded in the Australian Antarctic Gazetteer and the SCAR Composite Gazetteer of Antarctica.

The Australian Antarctic Territory’s newly named places:

Boot Island
Bobbin Island
Cape Fortress
Cape Gorbatyi
Complexity Head
Dagger Island
Cape Descent
Bactrian Island
Impregnable Island
Midway Island
Needle Island
Crocodile Island
Uranus Island
Neptune Island
Recovery Island
Rescue Island
Rhino Island
Ribbon Island
Star Promontory
Dyke Island
Thread Island
Weavers Island
The Cauldron
Abatus Bay
Carey Nunatak
Ravich Nunatak
Utstikkar Glacier
Wilkins Aerodome