The Quest for the Magnetic Pole: navigation and research into polar terrestrial magnetism (2008)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
At the conclusion of Scott’s Discovery expedition, Albert Armitage wrote the following: The observations for variation have proved very good, and the results of these alone are sufficient reward for all the monotonous labour connected with the magnetic observations, if, as I believe they will do, they enable those who go down to the sea in ships to navigate with a greater measure of confidence and safety those waters that wash the shores of our southern possessions and South America. (Armitage 1905) Armitage was one of many navigators, scientists and expeditioners to investigate the nature of terrestrial magnetism up to the famous sledge journey by Mawson, McKay and David to the vicinity of the south magnetic pole in January 1909. I believe that geomagnetic research flourished between 1830 and the Heroic era of Antarctic exploration. Although much research had been undertaken during that period, and many questions answered, Louis Bauer (Director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington) indicated there were still gaps in fundamental knowledge when he wrote in 1914: The accumulation of data must at present be the chief aim of the student of the earth’s magnetism.(Bauer 1914) This review will briefly describe some aspects of development of the science of geomagnetic research, especially during the Victorian era. It will also discuss its place in the art of traditional navigation and the linkage to selected high latitude expeditions.
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