| ||Remarkable mineral landscape in this "white continent", the dry valleys neither captive of the ice nor are covered with snow. Indeed, catabatic winds coming from the heart of the Antarctic blow here up to 186 mph and prevent snow from accumulating. Their force is such as they erodes the rock and reveals the sedimentary layers. Towering over the iced river of the Taylor glacier, West Beacon mountains appears made up of layers of black basalts of volcanic origin, and ochre sedimentary rocks of fluvial and lacustrine origin. Arid and cold, this polar desert of 9323 square miles (15 000 km2) among the most inhospitable areas of planet. However, some forms of life known as extremophiles indured the harch conditions, such as unicellular bacteria or algae. To protect this singular area which is a unique place for research on the history of the Earth and the adaptation of life, the Dry Valleys were declared in 2004 an Antarctic Specially managed Area (ASMA). The United States and New Zealand , who built their scientific bases in the McMurdo area, are in charge of its management.
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