5 December, 1996

Dec. 5


Once again, Jennifer and I get up at 6AM, gulp breakfast, check out a van, get the survival bag and gear, dress in ECW gear and head toward Wille Field. Hooray, it is sunny. It is absolutely magnificent. Clear and cold, but hardly a breath of wind today. We are out on the field by 8AM and taking our first photo by 8:15. The snow ripples we studied about in Kansas this summer are there. We used our apparatus and take 110 photos of special features by 11:30. We decide we finally have enough data and take our marker flags down and bring all the gear back.

I photograph the ice cornices hanging over the road on the way back. I hope they come out. These will have to be blasted down as they are beginning to break off on the road. From the top of the hill the view of the ice shelf is spectacular. The ice itself has huge compression ripples on it. Other areas are full of broken ice and crevasses. Very picturesque, but dangerous. We return our survival bag to the Berg Field Center as we won't need it again. Other apparatus is returned. While in the Berg Field Center I watch two girls who are working to put new lashings on a wooden sled. This is the type of sled used in the Arctic and also by explorers like Scott and Amundsen. They carry a lot of weight and are so well designed they are still being used more than 80 years later. Amazing.

We return to lab and work until 5PM. Dr. Braaten and Suruj need to be at the help pad by 6:30 so we eat a quick dinner. Jennifer and I chat later with four volcanologists. Two are studying volcanic ash in the ice layers. They are both chemists. One does dating using Ar/K

ratios. The other studies the composition of trace elements in the ash. They will leave for a 3-4 week stay in the field next week.

While we chatted, people shared funny/odd stories about Antarctic travels. One had to try 5 times before he got to McMurdo. Each time they got on the plane and flew about half way here (4 hours) before the pilots decided the weather was too bad. Can you imagine being awakened EARLY in the morning, being crammed on a full plane, and sitting on canvas seats with the roar of the plane making conversation impossible for 4 hours, only to have to be turned back? And then to do that 4 times before you get to your destination? I was so lucky to get here on the first try!

Another scientist was coming from an automatic weather station site, AGO3, near the South Pole with McMurdo Base his destination. The radio on the plane didn't seem to work. Due to a misunderstanding, the pilots flew to South Pole. In the mean time, McMurdo had sent out Search and Rescue teams to try to find the missing plane they couldn't contact by radio. That was an odd trip. He also mentioned a time when he was on one of the flights which took you to the pole and returned in two hours. They didn't have enough fuel and had to return mid way. Another time a flight to the Pole ended oddly. The weather was so poor at the pole that the plan landed 7 miles away on the plateau and taxied all the way in, bumping along. What an adventure! Before returning to lab I took a little tour of McMurdo with my videocamera. I really don't begin to have enough photographs, but there just doesn't seem to ever be enough time.

I worked in lab until midnight and did e-mail journals until 1:30. I think it is time to call it a day! It had been an absolutely beautiful day. It is like spring. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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