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Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

[Two comments on “Historic cartographic evidence for Holocene changes in the Antarctic ice cover”] Antarctic ice cover



Readers of John G. Weihaupt's “Historic Cartographic Evidence for Holocene Changes in the Antarctic Ice Cover” (Eos, August 28, 1984, p. 493) may wish to consult Charles H. Hapgood, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings, Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Ages (Chilton, Radnor, Penn., 1966). The major part of this book is a presentation of the thesis that Weihaupt has independently developed: that early sixteenth century maps portray Antarctica, and in particular an ice-free Ross Sea, and that such knowledge must have been obtained and transmitted from a remote, perhaps prehistoric, epoch. Hapgood is perhaps better known to the geophysical community for his earlier book, Earth's Shifting Crust (Pantheon, New York, 1958), which proposed that the growth of ice caps unbalances the crust so that it can, and during the Pleistocene frequently did, slide over the interior, displacing the poles several thousand kilometers.

The more conservative literature on Terra Australis of the sixteenth century cartographers is extensive; Acta Cartographica, a collection of reprinted papers on historical cartography, has over two dozen references in its indexes. A plausible hypothesis by J. Enterline (Imago Mundi, 26, pp. 48–58, 1972) is that it reflects Portugese acquisition of Indonesian knowledge of Australia, the prominent embayment (Hapgood's and Weihaupt's ice-free Ross Sea) being the Gulf of Carpentaria. Underestimation of the size of the globe forced Australia to extend over the pole, just as it forced newly discovered America to lie close to Japan.

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