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South Georgia Mapping

South Georgia is a mountainous, glaciated island in the South Atlantic.
It has a rugged coastline and its highest peaks reach to over 2,935 m
a.s.l., 8 % of the landmass is vegetated and there are numerous offshore
islands and skerries. Each year more than 8,000 visitors come to the
Territory, some enjoy short walks in the spectacular coastal scenery,
others undertake ambitious expeditions into the islands interior, and
all rely on accurate maps.

Detailed information about our surroundings is often taken for granted
but it has taken nearly 250 years to accumulate such a thorough
knowledge of the landscape. This information has been hard won and has a
fascinating history.

Cook Map 1775 and HMS Resolution

South Georgia was first sighted looming out of the stormy seas of the
south Atlantic by a London merchant Anthony de la Roche in 1675.
However, he did not brave a landing on the rocky shores and for a
hundred years, the island remained untouched by humans. That all changed
in 1775 when Captain James Cook and his ship HMS Resolution
circumnavigated the island and on January 17th, made the first landing
at Possession Bay, raising the British flag and claiming it for King
George III. This day is now celebrated as a public holiday on South
Georgia. Cook produced the first map of South Georgia and gave names to
a number of features which persist to this day including Bird Island and
Cumberland Bay. He also named the southernmost tip of the island ‘Cape
Disappointment’ as it was at this point he realised South Georgia was an
island, rather than the great southern continent that he had been
searching for.

Carse Map 1958 and Surveys 1951-1957

Progress in understanding the geography of South Georgia was made
throughout the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century by
whalers, sealers and several expeditions including one by Russian-born
Thaddeus Bellingshausen that mapped the little known south coast, and
the German International Polar Year expedition in 1882-83 produced
detailed maps of the Royal Bay area. However, the island’s interior was
not comprehensively mapped until the 1950’s after a series of three
expeditions led by Duncan Carse. Carse and thirteen men surveyed the
island’s mountainous and glaciated interior using techniques that had
scarcely changed since Shackleton’s era but were nonetheless extremely
effective. The culmination of their work was published by the
Directorate of Overseas Surveys in 1958 and remained the definitive map
of the island for the next 46 years.

BAS map 2017 and and GIS Mapping

Modern technology and the availability of satellite imagery have
revolutionised mapping and mean that South Georgia can be viewed in
detail like never before. Utilising images from the Digital Globe
Worldview satellites which can produce images with up to 30cm
resolution. Combining this with the latest photogrammetry and computer
technologies means it is possible to map peaks and contours at 25 m
resolution, see the precise position of lakes and streams, monitor the
rate at which glaciers retreat and even differentiate types of
vegetation. This work by the British Antarctic Survey MAGIC team has
culminated in the production of the most recent and most comprehensive
map of the island which was released in 2017. In parallel with this a
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) web portal has been developed and
means that anyone can access detailed maps rich with information about
everything from the position of wildlife colonies to locations of
historic sites.

Technical Details

Designer Andrew Robinson

Cook Map © The UK National Archives

Carse Map © Directorate of Overseas Surveys 1958 the stamp is licensed
under the

Open Government Licence 3.0.

Images of Carse © Scott Polar Research Institute, University of

BAS Map 2015/GIS image © British Antarctic Survey.

Printer Cartor Security Printing

Process Stochastic lithography

Perforation 13 ½ x 13 ¼ per 2cms

Stamp size 28 x 42mm

Sheet Layout 10

Release date 5 February, 2018

Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd

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