Warning! What follows is an epilogue to THE ICE LIMIT, which was originally available only on our publisher’s web site. If you have not yet finished THE ICE LIMIT, reading this epilogue will spoil the book for you! You have been warned!
We have been asked to amplify certain details relating to the ending of The Ice Limit. In response, we have reproduced the following news stories, which we culled from issues of the New York Times, U. S. News and World Report, and the Washington Post during the period July 26 through September 1 of the year in question. We offer our thanks to the appropriate news organizations and wire services for giving permission to reproduce the stories here. Please note that these articles are copyrighted by their respective owners; reproduction, copying, storage, or retrieval of these articles in any form is strictly prohibited.
We present these items to you without editing and without further comment.
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
[New York Times - page A12, International: single-column story, below the fold]
SOUTH GEORGIA, July 26—The British Maritime Agency representative at this small island in the South Atlantic reported today that a Liberian-registered tanker, Rolvaag, sank yesterday in a severe storm north of the Bransfield Strait, about 200 miles off the coast of Antarctica. Survivors were reportedly rescued and taken to the British Scientific Station at South Georgia, where they are currently receiving medical attention. The extent of the loss of life is not yet determined. The Rolvaag, according to the Registry, was a converted tanker owned by an American mining company, Neptune Subterranean, and had been involved in a mining operation on an island off the coast of Chile.
[New York Times - page A10, International: 2-column boxed story, below the fold, with black-and-white locational map.]
SOUTH GEORGIA, July 27—The British
Maritime Agency yesterday reported the sinking of the Rolvaag in a storm off the
coast of Antarctica. The Rolvaag was a Liberian registered tanker, converted to an
ore carrier, involved in mining operations off the southern coast of Chile.
Out of a crew and passenger roster of 128, only 20 reportedly survived. An unconfirmed report states that among the survivors was the billionaire industrialist Palmer Lloyd, Chief Executive Officer of Lloyd Holdings. The reason for his presence on the ship is unknown at this time. A spokesman for Lloyd Holdings declined to comment on the report.
Search and rescue operations also recovered an engineer who had been stranded for three days on a small, makeshift raft of floating debris which had drifted 150 miles northward from the area of the accident. The engineer reportedly kept himself alive by building a fire and feeding it with pieces of the raft. By the time he was rescued the raft had been almost entirely consumed.
The captain of the Rolvaag, Sally Britton, and most of the crew are also believed to have perished in the disaster.
The Rolvaag had been leased from NorgeWerks of Oslo by Neptune Mining and was transporting iron ore from a mine on the Cape Horn Islands. An investigation is currently in progress.
[Washington Post - July 30, page A16, World News, under "The Americas" in "World in Brief" box]
SOUTH GEORGIA ISLAND—The British Scientific Station at South Georgia Island has reported a series of shallow temblors with an epicenter lying 200 miles north of the Antarctic Peninsula. The small earthquakes have registered between 2.0 and 3.0 on the Richter scale. The temblors are too small and distant to be felt on land, but have been recorded at seismographic stations on South Georgia, Punta Arenas, the South Sandwich Islands, and the Falkland Islands.
[Washington Post - page A15, World News, single-column boxed story, below the fold]
SOUTH GEORGIA ISLAND, August 2—Geologists at the British Scientific Station here have reported that an undersea volcano is suspected to be the cause of a series of mysterious temblors in the South Atlantic, off the coast of Antarctica. The small earthquakes, some recently registering as high as 4.2 Mw on the Richter scale, have shaken the sea floor at a depth of over two miles, near what is called the "Ice Limit": the northernmost extension of pack ice surrounding Antarctica, where the South Atlantic Ocean converges with the Antarctic Sea. The seaquakes have been picked up by seismograph stations in the region. More than 250 small earthquakes have been registered, along with lower frequency vibrations which scientists believe are the result of the movement of magma deep under the earth's crust.
[U. S. News & World Report, week of August 5 - page 31, World Report: half-page article on bottom half of page with a photo of the Marylebone.]
GRYTVIKEN, SOUTH GEORGIA—Seismologists
and vulcanologists from the United States and Britain are growing increasingly excited by
a new undersea volcano that may be erupting off the coast of Antarctica. A series of small
earthquakes shook the region beginning last week, becoming gradually stronger and more
widespread. Some of the latest quakes have registered close to 5.0 on the Richter scale,
large enough to have been felt on nearby islands. The quakes are occurring in the abyssal
plain of the Scotia Ridge, where the ocean is more than two miles deep.
"This is an unusual opportunity for vulcanologists to study an undersea volcano in the making," said Dr. Philip Hartley, a scientist with the American National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who flew to South Georgia two days ago to study the eruptions. "It is especially interesting because this is not an area previously known for vulcanism." Dr. Hartley said it was highly unlikely that the volcano would actually build enough of an undersea mount to break the surface and become a new island. The British research vessel, Marylebone, is deviating from its normal schedule and is being quickly re-equipped in order to leave for the remote site next week, taking advantage of a rare period of good weather.
The seas north of the Antarctic Peninsula are known to be the most dangerous on earth, with large storms, high winds, and immense waves that have been recorded at close to 200 feet high. The vessel will be employing a remote submersible, capable of diving the 2 miles necessary to view the volcano. The submersible, called the Nausicaa, is similar to the ones used to discover the Titanic almost twenty years ago.
"It will be a real challenge to study this eruption," said Dr. Hartley, "given the great depth, dangerous seas, and intense cold. August, of course, is wintertime down here."
[Washington Post - page A14, World News, single-column boxed story, below the fold]
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND, August 10—The
British research vessel H.M.S. Marylebone set off today with a crew of 38,
including a joint British-American team of 12 scientists, to study a mysterious undersea
eruption taking place on the sea-bed about 200 miles north of the Antarctic coast. A rare
period of good weather in this region known for severe storms and high seas allowed the
expedition to proceed.
"We're incredibly lucky to have this weather," said Dr. Phillip Hartley, an undersea vulcanologist with NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who is leading the American scientific team. "This volcano is getting very interesting, very quickly, and we're going to be able to study it under optimal conditions."
Scientists have recorded several strong earthquakes in the vicinity, some registering as high as 6.2 on the Richter scale, along with some very low frequency seismic waves that scientists have interpreted as being the movement of magma deep within the earth's crust.
"This is a big eruption," said Dr. Hartley. "Astonishing, really. We're very excited at the prospect of learning more."
Not all geologists are convinced the earthquakes mark the eruption of an underwater volcano. "If this is a volcano," said Dr. Elwyn Pandolfi of Harvard University's Department of Geophysical Sciences, "then it's the strangest volcano I've ever seen." He explained that the seismic disturbances have been too strong and too localized to be explained by an underwater eruption. And he notes that satellite photographs and aerial flyovers have not revealed any outgassing on the surface of the ocean where the volcano is believed to be erupting. A typical volcanic eruption, Dr. Pandolfi stated, would spew out millions of tons of gases such as carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, which under normal circumstances should be roiling the surface of the ocean.
Dr. Pandolfi did not have any alternative suggestions as to what the seismic disturbances might mean, but he hypothesized it might have something to do with plate tectonics—the spreading and malformation of the crust that is known to take place on the sea floor. "The sea floor is where the continents spread, where new crust is formed. I believe this has something to do with the forces that drive the continents—it's just too massive to be some little undersea volcano."
[New York Times - page A10, International: 2-column boxed story, above the fold, with photograph of Marylebone]
GRYTVIKEN, SOUTH GEORGIA, August
21—Communications officers at the British Scientific Station on South Georgia Island
today lost contact with the research vessel H.M.S. Marylebone, which had sailed
last week to a remote part of the South Atlantic to study the eruption of a possible
undersea volcano. The eruption is believed to be taking place on the abyssal plain near a
deep sea landmark known as the Scotia Ridge, in water that is approximately two miles
deep. Soon after contact was lost, South Georgia, the Falkland Islands, and the Cape Horn
Islands were struck by two distinct series of tidal waves, fifteen minutes apart, with
wave crests measuring up to seventy feet in height.
Dr. Dana Embledown, chief of the South Georgia station, doubted that there was a connection between the waves and the loss of contact with the Marylebone. "Normally," Dr. Embledown said, "a ship on the high seas is immune to the effects of a tidal wave." A tidal wave, he explained, can pass beneath a ship in the open ocean with a barely noticeable rise and fall. Tidal waves only become dangerous when they encounter shoaling water, which causes them to crest and break. "We believe the loss of radio contact is temporary," he said. "Probably a generator failure. The weather down here has been splendid—no storms, wind, or high seas. The Marylebone is one of the most advanced research vessels ever built. We have complete confidence in both ship and crew."
Dr. Embledown dismissed speculation that the undersea volcano might have damaged the ship. "There are two miles of water between the erupting volcano and the ship," he said. "There's no way the eruption could have affected the ship."
Dr. Embledown added that the two sets of tidal waves caused no damage to the scientific station at South Georgia, which has been built to weather the heavy seas and strong storms that periodically sweep that part of the South Atlantic. Minor damage was reported at Port Stephens on the south coast of West Falkland. The rest of the exposed coastal areas in the Cape Horn region are uninhabited, and no damage or loss of life was reported.
There is some contention in the scientific community at large, however, as to the fate of the H.M.S. Marylebone. Dr. Elwyn Pandolfi, director of Harvard's Department of Geology, said that a large release of gas by an underwater volcano or "some other" tectonic process could have sent a giant cascade of bubbles to the surface, possibly overturning the ship or suffocating those on board. "It troubles me that this was a spur-of-the-moment expedition, without advance planning, that headed south under the assumption they were to visit an underwater volcanic eruption. No eruption I've ever heard of generates earthquakes of this magnitude. Something else is going on here; something very big." Dr. Pandolfi refused to speculate further.
Tidal waves, scientists say, are often a byproduct of undersea earthquakes. It is believed that the quakes can trigger underwater landslides, which in turn can pull down part of the surface of the overlying ocean, triggering unnaturally large waves that spread out in all directions. Seismic stations around the world have continued to record increasingly strong earthquake activity in the area, with some registering up to 7.9 Mw on the Richter scale—almost as severe as the 8.25 earthquake that leveled San Francisco in 1906. These recent earthquakes have been strong enough to be felt in Punta Arenas, Chile, some 2,000 miles away.
[New York Times - page A5, International: 4-column story, top half of page]
NEW YORK, August 23—A scientific furor
erupted today when Dr. Samuel McFarlane, a planetary geologist with no academic
affiliation, asserted on the Today Show that the earthquake activity in the South
Atlantic is being caused by a meteorite of interstellar origin.
Dr. McFarlane claimed that he had been scientific director of a secret expedition to the Cape Horn islands to recover the world's largest meteorite for the collection of industrialist Palmer Lloyd. He maintained that the Rolvaag, which sank on July 25, was chartered by a dummy company set up by Lloyd Holdings, Inc., and that the ship carried not iron ore but a 25,000 ton meteorite that had been misappropriated from Chilean national territory. The Rolvaag, of Liberian registry, sank in a severe storm in the South Atlantic with the loss of 108 lives. The meteorite, he said, went to the bottom with the ship.
Dr. McFarlane advanced the theory that the meteorite was actually a large seed that had been drifting across interstellar space for millions, even billions of years. "This is the Panspermia Theory with a vengeance," he said in his surprise appearance on the Today Show. The Panspermia Theory refers to an idea promoted by the late Carl Sagan, in which life may have first reached earth through vast clouds of microscopic spores drifting through space. "This is a spore, a seed, only it isn't microscopic. It had been waiting for salt water to germinate. And now it's growing into God only knows what." He added that planetary geologists believe the galaxy is populated with planets and that many may have saltwater oceans. "We've already found another planet in our own Solar System with a vast saltwater ocean—Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. It shouldn't be a surprise that the seed was looking for salt water in which to germinate."
Dr. McFarlane offered as evidence for his theory a CD-ROM computer disk, which he claimed contained data collected on the meteorite before it was lost. He offered copies of the disk to any properly credentialed scientist who asked for it.
His assertions, however, were quickly disputed by scientists across the spectrum, who pointed to Dr. McFarlane's checkered career, which included a controversial stint at the New York Museum of Natural History and a period as a freelance meteorite hunter. "This theory is absurd," said Dr. Saul Blumenthal, director of the SETI project and an expert on extraterrestrial biology. "It's ridiculous. I have a copy of the so-called disk and I can assure you it is a fake, a crude fabrication. Why the press has given this asinine claim the slightest attention at all is the only mystery here that needs investigation. This is just one more chapter in Dr. McFarlane's effort to promote his crackpot theory of interstellar meteorites. There is no such thing."
The planetary geologist Hugo Breitling, a meteorite expert and adjunct professor with the California Institute of Technology, said he was "shocked" by Dr. McFarlane's "haggard" demeanor during his Today Show appearance and said he "was clearly in need of psychiatric treatment." He added: "I've known Sam McFarlane for a long time, and all I can say is, this is the culmination of a long and very sad decline."
Attempts to reach Palmer Lloyd, whom Dr. McFarlane claimed financed the expedition, were unavailing. A Lloyd Museum spokesperson, Cindi Jenkins, dismissed McFarlane's report as "an utter fabrication" and "libelous." She said that McFarlane had applied for, and been refused, a position at the new museum several months ago.
In a related story, repeated attempts to contact the research vessel H.M.S. Marylebone, which disappeared in the South Atlantic two days ago, continue to be unsuccessful. Aerial reconnaissance and satellite photography also failed to turn up any evidence of the ship, or even debris on the surface. Some maritime experts said that it would be unthinkable for a large research vessel such as the Marylebone to have remained incommunicado for such a period unless some disaster had occurred that either sank the ship or left it crippled beyond repair. Worsening weather cut short further air search and also prevented ships from entering the area, notorious for its high seas and violent storms.
[New York Times - front page: 1-column story, rightmost column]
NEW YORK, August 24—Palmer Lloyd, the
controversial billionaire and director of the Lloyd Museum, emerged from seclusion to make
an unexpected appearance on Larry King Live. He said he had been on the Rolvaag
when it sank, and he confirmed that the ship was indeed carrying a meteorite recovered
from Chilean territory. He also confirmed that Dr. Samuel McFarlane was the scientific
director of the expedition. He stated that the controversial CD-ROM was genuine, and that
he and Dr. McFarlane were sending copies to leading geology and biology departments across
the country in hopes that the data could be studied as soon as possible.
In an interview with the Post following his appearance on Larry King Live, Lloyd told a harrowing story of the loss of the Rolvaag. Last year, he said, a scout for the Lloyd Museum had discovered the presence of the meteorite on Cape Horn Island, the southernmost Island in the Cape Horn group. The meteorite was to be the centerpiece of the new natural history museum he was building in Putnam County, along the upper Hudson River Valley. The expedition went down to Chile under the cover of a mining operation. Lloyd says he satisfied the letter of international law by acquiring mineral leases to the island in question and that the expedition broke no laws.
The meteorite was loaded on board the Rolvaag without undue difficulties, according to Lloyd, when their activities were discovered by the captain of a Chilean destroyer, the Almirante Ramirez. The destroyer chased the Rolvaag into international waters, fired on the tanker, and crippled it near the Ice Limit, the line demarcating where the Antarctic ice pack begins. The Almirante Ramirez subsequently sank in a strong storm that was battering the region. The Rolvaag, according to Lloyd, had been so badly damaged by the Chilean warship that the order was given to abandon ship. Many hands were lost launching the lifeboats in the violent seas, and the Rolvaag sank less than fifteen minutes after being abandoned, carrying its 25,000 ton cargo to the bottom. The captain of the Rolvaag, Master Sally Britton, went down with the ship. Lloyd stated that the sinking of the Rolvaag took place in precisely the place identified by seismologists as the epicenter of the recent earthquakes.
Maritime records back up Lloyd's assertions of where the Rolvaag sank, but the rest of his story could not be independently confirmed. The Chilean consulate in New York issued a strong denial that any of its naval ships had been involved in a confrontation with the Rolvaag or any other vessel. A naval expert with Jane's Defense Weekly did, however, confirm the existence of a destroyer in the Chilean fleet named the Almirante Ramirez, captained by a Comandante Emiliano Vallenar.
Lloyd also backed up Dr. McFarlane's theory that the meteorite was a giant seed that they had inadvertently planted at the bottom of the ocean. He ended his interview with a strong plea to the international community to unite and do whatever possible, as he put it, to "kill whatever it is that's growing down there, before it rips the planet apart." He said he was shutting down the Lloyd Museum and placing his entire fortune, estimated at $33 billion, at the disposal of "anyone with a good idea of how to exterminate" what he called a "very dangerous life form."
Mr. Lloyd's appearance was immediately greeted with a chorus of derision from the scientific community, which continued to assert the CD-ROM was a fake, and that Lloyd was, as one put it, "pulling a stunt that would shame even P. T. Barnum."
[New York Times - front page, 3-column banner story.]
BUENOS AIRES, august 26—Immense tidal
waves reaching up to 200 feet high struck the coastlines of Antarctica, Tierra del Fuego,
and the southern coastline of Chile at around 11:00 GMT. The waves even reached as far as
the southwestern coastline of Africa. Tidal waves also raked the islands of South Georgia,
South Shetland, South Orkney, and the Falkland island groups. Preliminary reports indicate
heavy damage in Punta Arenas and the Falklands, with loss of life mounting into the
hundreds, as well as devastating damage to the British Scientific Station on South Georgia
Island. A general evacuation of low-lying coastal areas in the southern regions of South
America has been ordered by Chile, Argentina, and Great Britain. The government of South
Africa has issued a coastal advisory covering its west coast ports and cargo carriers
using the international shipping route that rounds the Cape of Good Hope.
Scientists believe the tidal waves are connected with the intense seismic activity which gripped the Scotia Ridge area of the South Atlantic last month, but severe storms have prevented observation of the area since the research vessel, H.M.S. Marylebone, disappeared there on August 21. Seismic stations around the globe continue to record powerful earthquakes in the area, some registering as high as 9.3 Mw on the Richter scale, making them some of the highest-magnitude earthquakes recorded since the scale was invented in 1935. The earthquakes have already leveled the towns of Ushuaia and Puerto Williams and caused extensive landslides in the southern Cordillera of Chile. They have also caused severe damage in Punta Arenas, Stanley, and Rio Gallegos, and have been felt as far as Durban, South Africa.
Scientists initially believed the seaquakes were caused by an underwater volcanic eruption, but the increasing size of the quakes have made that theory less likely. "This is like nothing I've ever seen as a geologist," said Elwyn Pandolfi of Harvard University. "Some utterly new and previously unobserved geological process is taking place. I would guess it's related to plate tectonics in some way. It's certainly not a seed, as some absurd reports have suggested."
[Washington Post - page A14, World News, 4-column boxed story, above the fold]
NEW YORK, August 27—Palmer Lloyd, who
stunned the world last week with the announcement that the earthquakes and tidal waves in
the South Atlantic were being caused by a germinating seed from outer space, said today
that he was forming an emergency expedition to the South Atlantic to "exterminate the
life form" that he says he is responsible for "planting." The expedition
will be led by Dr. Samuel McFarlane, the former meteorite hunter and planetary geologist
who, Lloyd claims, led the original expedition to Chile to recover the meteorite.
The announcement was, as usual, greeted with ridicule from the scientific community. "This is cynicism at a breathtaking level," said Elwyn Pandolfi of Harvard University. "It may be true that the Rolvaag sank with a great meteorite on board, but to turn that tragedy into this kind of promotional circus is unforgivable." Other scientists echoed Dr. Pandolfi's views and severely criticized the news media, particularly the Today Show, for giving the assertions any credence.
On the Today Show earlier in the week, Lloyd sent out a plea for scientists from around the world to band together in an effort to destroy "whatever it is that's growing down there." According to Lloyd spokesperson Cindi Jenkins, the response has been spectacular. "We will have our choice of the very best," she said. "The pay is excellent and while the danger is high, the stakes are higher. Our very survival as a species is threatened."
Later, cameramen photographed a slim man in a wheelchair, wearing a brown suit and dark glasses, his face, hands, and feet heavily bandaged, leaving the Lloyd Holdings headquarters on Park Avenue. The man was said to be an engineer who had survived the wreck of the Rolvaag, and who had been attempting to volunteer his services to design a weapon that would kill the "alien plant" Lloyd claims is growing in the South Atlantic. Later, in response to a press conference question, Lloyd stated he had rejected the man's offer of help. He refused to make the man's name available to the press, but stated that he had been the chief engineer on the original expedition to Chile, and had been on board the Rolvaag when it went down. Later, the Post was able to confirm the man's identity as Eli Glinn, president of an obscure New York City firm known as Effective Engineering Solutions. The Post was unable to obtain a telephone number or an address for the firm.According to Lloyd, if all goes as planned, the heavily armed expedition will leave New York Harbor on September 15, bound for the Ice Limit.
THE ICE LIMIT is copyright © 2000 by Lincoln Child and Splendide Mendax, Inc. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this text, or any portion thereof, in any form.