Sunday, November 18, 2007

Field Trip

I am going to try to crank out four posts this month as a certain friend wants me to break the current record of three. For the past two weeks I went out to a field camp and helped some scientists in the Granite Harbor area which is about an hour flight from McMurdo to the northwest. The group was doing some seismic testing to hopefully find a good area to drill into the earth and take core samples. My job out there was to monitor the sea ice and make sure that we all didn't get blown out to see if it started to break up. The good thing was that while I was out there the ice was actually really stable. The bad thing was that it made my job kind of boring as there wasn't too much to check. I did screw around with my camera taking black and white photos so you all get to look at some that came out okay. The first is of the scientists raising an airgun out of the water after it just shot out a giant air bubble that then bounced off the sea floor bottom and the bounced back up to the surface and was recorded by a bunch of fancy microphones. Depending on what the microphones read you can tell what are the different types of sediment in the earth. It is an interesting process for about five minutes and we did it for a couple weeks.
This photo is of a tabular iceberg, which is a giant chunk of ice that broke off a glacier that is floating in the ocean. This one is probably a couple hundred feet high and maybe a quarter mile square. Some of them can be over a mile long and they will just break off and the float around in the sea ice. Eventually they either get stuck in the ice for another winter like this one, which as you can see has ice all around it, or float out to the ocean to melt. You feel very small next to them except when you get to fly around them in a helicopter.
Here are a couple of shots from the area surrounding camp, we had some pretty beautiful skies while I was out there. Actually, I would call this place the Bermuda Triangle of Antarctica because my time was characterized by amazing weather when everyone else on the continent was getting horrible weather, and the Triangle part of the name is that nine out of eleven machines broke down while we were out there, some of them more than once requiring an enormous amount of time and energy to get them back up and running.

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