We are all Antarcticans. It is a continent governed by International Agreement. No-one has detonated a nuclear bomb there or dumped toxic waste there. If you wanted to see a place that has never had a war, or been mined for its minerals, or pumped for its oil, or dammed or farmed or hardly touched by human hand, then Antarctica is your place. It has been a successful venture in peaceful international scientific investigation since 1959. It represents hope for the future and yet its melting ice threatens the lowest 70m of our world with deluge.
Here you can see Mount Meru in the background
There are several glaciers on the summit at 5895m above sea level including; Furtwangler, Ratzel, Deeken, Kersten, Heim, Balletto, Diamond, Drygalski, Credner and the Northern and Southern Icefields.
The mountain has periodically been covered with ice sheets and glaciers, the last sheet having been laid down perhaps as recently as during the worldwide drop in temperature experienced between 1400AD and 1700AD. It once had an ice cap more than 100m deep with glaciers extending well down the flanks to below 4000m.
In 1889, German geographer Hans Meyer and Austrian mountaineer Ludwig Purtscheller became the first Europeans to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. Hans Meyer reported in 1898 that the ice limit had withdrawn by over 100m since he first ascended 8 years earlier.
The glaciers on the summit have reduced in surface area coverage by 85% since accurate measurements were first made in 1912. It is thought that the glacier will have melted completely by 2060
Originally formed from three large volcanic vents: Shira, Kibo and Mawenzi. The volcano grew in size as the vents grew in height and joined with each other. Eventually Shira became extinct and the cone collapsed, followed by Mawenzi, seen here at a distance of approximately 10 miles.
The Kibo cone remained active and around 360,000 years ago a huge eruption completely covered the old Shira caldera and created the saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi.
Kibo's last eruption formed the caldera which contains the Inner Crater and Ash Pit and the volcano is peppered with numerous small ‘parasitic’ volcanoes over it’s flanks. The cone has levelled out at its present altitude and the volcano is now classed as dormant, but not extinct. The highest point on Kibo’s crater rim is called Uhuru, the Swahili word for ‘freedom’.
Mount Kilimanjaro is a massive stratovolcano in Tanzania that started forming as recently as 750,000 years ago. It is the result of the catastrophic tearing and thinning of the crust as Africa splits apart in a ‘Y’ shaped rip that goes from the Red sea, through Ethiopia and all the way down to South Africa forming the Great Rift Valley System.
The descent from the top takes you through a high desert
Through an Alpine environment
Down through the rain forest
Through rich farmland and onto the Great Plains of the African Rift Valley System