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Thurston Island facts for kids

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Thurston Island - en.svg
Map of Thurston Island
Thurston is located in Antarctica
Location in Antarctica
Location of Thurston Island
Location Antarctica
Coordinates 72°6′S 99°0′W / 72.100°S 99.000°W / -72.100; -99.000
Area 15,700 km2 (6,100 sq mi)
Area rank 56th
Length 215 km (133.6 mi)
Width 90 km (56 mi)
Highest elevation 750 m (2,460 ft)
Highest point Mount Howell
Administered under the Antarctic Treaty System

Thurston Island is an ice-covered, glacially dissected island, 215 km (134 mi) long, 90 km (56 mi) wide and 15,700 km2 (6,062 sq mi) in area, lying a short way off the northwest end of Ellsworth Land, Antarctica. It is the third largest island of Antarctica, after Alexander Island and Berkner Island.

The island was discovered from the air by Rear Admiral Byrd on February 27, 1940, who named it for W. Harris Thurston, New York textile manufacturer, designer of the windproof "Byrd Cloth" and sponsor of Antarctic expeditions. Thurston Island is separated from the mainland by Peacock Sound, which is occupied by the western portion of Abbot Ice Shelf. It divides Bellingshausen Sea to the east from Amundsen Sea to the west.

Originally charted as a peninsula, the feature was not recognised an island until 1960.


The western extremity of the island is Cape Flying Fish. The eastern extremity is Cape Annawan, off Tierney Peninsula. The southeast end of the island is Cape Walker.

The island is divided south-north by the Walker Mountains, a range of peaks and nunataks. Several other peaks are situated on the Edwards and Noville Peninsulas. There are a large number of glaciers on Thurston Island.

Features by coast

North coast

The north coast of the island is indented by a series of alternating inlets and peninsulas. Cape Petersen forms the westernmost portion of the northern coast. East of that is Jones Peninsula, then Dyer Point and Hughes Peninsula. Henry Inlet indents the coast to the east, and Tinglof Peninsula forms its eastern shore. Wagoner Inlet is east of that, followed by Starr Peninsula. Glacier Bight is to the east, and just north off the coast from them are the hazardous Porters Pinnacles. East of Starr Peninsula are Potaka Inlet, Kearns Peninsula, followed by Peale Inlet. The larger Noville Peninsula is to the east. It is bordered by Murphy Inlet, whose southern end is split into two prongs by Linsley Peninsula and Ball Peninsula. Edwards Peninsula, Koether Inlet, and the larger Evans Peninsula are to the east. Cadwalader Inlet, Lofgren Peninsula, and Morgan Inlet form the northeastern coast.

East coast

ThurstonIsland Terra MODIS
Satellite image of the island (northeast-up oriented)

The easternmost point of the island is Tierney Peninsula, southeast of which is Seraph Bay. Simpson Bluff, a broad ice-covered bluff sits between Levko Glacier and Savage Glacier where they enter the bay. Nearby Baker Knob is a small rounded coastal elevation which has an abrupt east face. Both Simpson Bluff and Baker Knob were named by US-ACAN for personnel from the Eastern Group of U.S. Navy Operation Highjump: Photographer's Mates R.M. Simpson and T.W. Baker, respectively. Operation Highjump obtained aerial photographs of Thurston Island and adjacent coastal areas, 1946-47.

Snow-covered Harrison Nunatak stands 4 nautical miles (7 km) south of Savage Glacier. It was discovered on helicopter flights from the USS Burton Island (AGB-1) and USS Glacier (AGB-4) during the U.S. Navy Bellingshausen Sea Expedition in February 1960, and was named by the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names for Henry T. Harrison, Jr., a U.S. Weather Bureau meteorologist with the Byrd Antarctic Expedition in 1928–30.

The southeast point of the island is Cape Walker.

South coast

On the south side of the island are King Peninsula, Williamson Peninsula, Evans Point, and Von der Wall Point, projecting into Peacock Sound. Williamson Peninsula is bordered by Schwartz Cove and O'Dowd Cove.

Shelton Head is a headland marked by exposed rock, located 12 nmi (22 km) west of Long Glacier on the south coast of Thurston Island. It was mapped by the USGS from surveys and U.S. Navy air photos, 1960–66, and named by US-ACAN for John A. Shelton meteorologist at Byrd Station, 1963-64.

Prickly Ridge is a rounded ice-covered ridge 4 nmi (7.4 km) west of Shelton Head on the south side of Thurston Island. The descriptive name was given by Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN); small dispersed nunataks rise above the ice surface giving the feature a prickly appearance. Belknap Nunatak, an ice-covered spur, is the largest outcrop on the ridge. It was mapped by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from surveys and from U.S. Navy air photos, 1960–66, and named by US-ACAN for William Belknap, a field assistant at Byrd Station, 1964–65.

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