Southern Thule

A small group of three islands, Southern Thule forms the southernmost section of the South Sandwich Islands archipelago

Antarctic Peninsula

Region: Antarctica

Destinations: South Sandwich Islands

The Former Volcano of Southern Thule

The three islands that form Southern Thule are Thule, Cook, and Bellingshausen Islands. There is evidence that Thule and Cook were once connected, forming a huge volcano, and that the ancient caldera is located between these islands. The name “Southern Thule” was chosen in reference to its remoteness, which was thought equivalent to its northern counterpart in Greenland and the mythical Thule of the ancient Greeks.

Current Southern Thule Claim

The islands are claimed by the British as part of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Southern Thule is uninhabited, but in 1955 Argentina built a summer-only station, Teniente Esquivel, on Thule. In 1956 the station had to be evacuated because of a volcanic eruption on the neighboring Cook Island.

Southern Thule’s Forbidden Base

In 1976 Argentina established a naval base without British consent, built to house about 50 personnel. In 1982, during the Falklands War, the station was closed by the British and the Argentinean personnel removed from the island. The next year, the British destroyed the station. Its remains are now occupied only by fur seals and penguins.

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