Friday December 5, 2003
Brenda Reports from McMurdo:
We just completed bag drag and are scheduled to fly out tomorrow, first to Pole on a Herc, and then to Reedy Glacier via Twin Otter. With any luck, we'll be in our tent camp in the Quartz Hills by this time tomorrow night, ready to start work.
Gordon reports from McMurdo:
After a week in McMurdo Station we are just about ready to head out into the field. Weather permiting, we will be leaving in a couple of days,. Our time has been completely filled with mandatory safety courses, and the packing of all our equipment into wooden boxes and then onto large pallets.
Claire and I went to Survival School on the Ross Ice Shelf, learning how to build shelters out of snow and how to survive in the harsh environment. During the course we were treated to the rare spectacle of a polar solar eclipse! This was followed by a course in snow craft, during which we practiced hauling each other out of crevasses in the event of a fall, and how to ‘bum slide’ rapidly down snowy slopes. And finally, a very exciting course in snowmobile maintenance should ensure that we are not left in dire straits should our Skidoos break down in the middle of nowhere.
In all, we have accumulated about two tons of camping gear, geological equipment and food, and we have the grim task of transferring it all from a Hercules cargo plane to a smaller aircraft, the Twin Otter, at the South Pole. We are scheduled to fly out from McMurdo on Tuesday 2nd December, but currently it is snowing heavily outside, the wind piling it into large drifts around the buildings. We’re all hoping this storm doesn’t adversely affect our plans!
Regarding our research, by studying aerial photographs of the Quartz Hills, we’ve isolated the main areas we’d like to visit. Many sets of moraines, of various ages, are visible on the hillsides above the glacier, so we now know exactly where to look when we get out there. We’re taking large copies of the photographs into the field so that we can build up a picture of the glacial landforms as we find them. We will dig into the moraines with pick axes to study their sedimentology. Claire will be searching the area for suitable boulders, from which she can take small samples back to Seattle to be cosmogenically dated. She is also using GPS technology to identify the sampling sites on a map, and to determine how the Reedy Glacier has changed in elevation.
So, until Tuesday we shall remain here in McMurdo, filling time by eating, skiing, writing letters, and eating some more. Incidentally, the McMurdo kitchen staff laid on a marvelous Thanksgiving dinner for us yesterday, with loads of turkey, stuffing and puddings of all shapes and sizes. It’s a hard life in Antarctica!
erday, with loads of turkey, stuffing and puddings of all shapes and sizes. It’s a hard life in Antarctica!