South Georgia Island


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South Georgia: 53 50 to 55 00'S, 35 50' to 38 67'W

  • One main island, several small ones, many islets and rocks in the Southern Ocean approximately 350 km south of the Antarctic convergence
  • Area: 3755 km
  • The central spine of South Georgia forms a long mountain range with a maximum elevation of 2950m (Mount Paget). Much of the coast is skirted by high, steep sea cliffs and numerous small rocky islands. The north side of South Georgia is punctuated with fjords, bays and glacial valleys
  • Geology consists of folded metamorphosed slates, silts and graywackes with occasional thin limestones.  Igneous intrusions occur on the south and southeast coasts.  The Clerke Rocks, a group of approximately15 islets 75 km southeast of Cooper Island, are composed of granites
  • The climate is cloudy, cold and windy with little variation through the year.  August, the coldest month, has a mean temperature of -2C, while February, the warmest month, has a mean temperature of 6C.  Temperatures seldom reach above 9.5C or below -15C.  Precipitation also shows little seasonal variation, but is somewhat higher in winter.  On average, South Georgia receives about 1500 mm annually as summer rains and winter snows. Prevailing winds are from the northwest and southwest with an average velocity of 16 km/h.  Warm, moist northwest winds moving over cold ocean water bring low clouds and fog while southwest winds are often accompanied by cold weather and severe storms
  • The island is 57% glaciated. Summer snow line ranges between 450 and 600m along the warmer north slope but is much lower elsewhere.  Permafrost is present but only proximal to glaciers and at high elevations
  • First sighted 1675, first landing by Captain Cook 1775, sealers arrived 1786
  • Permanent occupation (whaling and scientific stations, and a garrison) from 1904 (previously sealers and scientific personnel wintered). Whaling and sealing stations operated 1904-65
  • British Territory, part of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands; also claimed by Argentina as part of the 'Islas del Atlantico Sur'


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