The other day I was surfing around Google Maps when I noticed two bits of land that I’d never seen before. The first is a small archipelago off the coast of Somalia. The main island of the group is called Socotra:
Socotra is one of the most isolated bits of land on Earth of continental origin (i.e., not of volcanic origin). The archipelago probably detached from Africa as a fault block during the Middle Pliocene (ca 6 million years ago), in the same set of rifting events that opened the Gulf of Aden to its northwest.
The archipelago consists of the main island of Socotra (3625 kmÃ‚Â² or 1400miÃ‚Â²), three smaller islands known collectively as “the Brothers” Ã¢â‚¬â€ Abd Al Kuri, Samha, Darsa Ã¢â‚¬â€ and other uninhabitable rock outcrops.
The second island is exceptionally remote, though it seems more famous. The Kerguelen Islands are truly in the middle of nowhere–deep in the south Atlantic near Antarctica:
Kerguelen has been used by a small number of science teams since 1949, with a population of 50-100 always present. There is also a satellite tracking station. The main island is also home to a well-established feral cat population descended from ships’ cats. They survive on sea birds and non-indigenous rabbits introduced to the islands. The islands are also known for the indigenous, edible Kerguelen cabbage.