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UMaine Today Magazine

Last Impression

Antarctica rock

"I am hopeful that Antarctica in its symbolic robe of white will shine forth as a continent of peace as nations working together there in the cause of science set an example of international cooperation."
Rear Adm. Richard Byrd

Inscription on the Byrd Memorial at McMurdo Station, Antarctica

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On the third floor of the Bryand Global Sciences Building at the University of Maine is one of the largest Antarctica rocks in North America. The 300 million-year-old, nearly 1,000-pound granite boulder has been sculpted by the Antarctic winds to produce smooth edges and deep hollows. It is art that climate has made.

In 1989, the boulder was removed from Antarctica under the supervision of UMaine Professor of Glacial and Quaternary Studies Harold Borns. At the time, Borns also served as program manager for polar glaciology at the National Science Foundation, which had been asked by the family of Rear Adm. Richard Byrd to select a "typical" rock from Antarctica that could be placed at the Arlington National Cemetery grave site of the legendary naval aviator and polar explorer. When plans changed, the rock was loaned by the Byrd family to UMaine, home of the internationally recognized Climate Change Institute.

In 1960, Borns was the first of many UMaine faculty members to participate in the U.S. Antarctic Research Program. Today, more than 40 UMaine researchers are involved in scientific investigations at the South Pole and around the world. Their focus is the Quaternary Period, a time of numerous glacial/interglacial cycles and abrupt changes in climate, from the present to nearly 2 million years ago.

UMaine is the home of the U.S. International Transantarctic Scientific Expedition, led by Paul Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute.
Byrd (18881957) led five Antarctic research expeditions between 192856.

He played a major role in promoting research in and peaceful use of the southern continent. Byrd rose to international hero status when he undertook a flight to the North Pole in 1926, for which he and his pilot were awarded Medals of Honor. Three years later, the explorer was the first to fly over the South Pole.


UMaine Today Magazine
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