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14 December, 2003

Return to MacZ

After yesterday’s little storm, we were eager to get out of the hut and do some work. Despite the morning’s –70 C wind chill, I eagerly headed back out to MacZ with Jackie and Kurt following my Real Audio broadcast with my students from St. John’s School (an enormous “Thank You” to all who parcticipated! Dawn and I greatly enjoyed talking with my students and others who e-mailed in questions). Our task today – to move the batteries into a wooden battery box (Figure 1) and connect the batteries into a bank that will supply the seismic station with a continuous 12 volts (Figure 2). During the summer, solar panels keep the batteries recharged, while in the 24-hour winter darkness a wind generator provides energy (Figure 3). Despite the bright sunshine on Erebus, Jackie found that a few minutes without her goggles resulted in eyebrow and eyelash-cicles (Figure 4) that rival the ice formations that the develop on the men’s beards and mustaches (See 12/08/03 Figure 9).

On the other side of Erebus, Peter Kelly and Phil Kyle were installing a recently repaired antenna at the seismic station E-1. This station is located on the rim of the side crater (see 12/09/03 The Side Crater). In Figure 5, the top of the cloud layer is visible as a sea of white obscuring the base of the volcano and imparting an otherworldly feeling to the scene.

With our work done, a hot dinner of marinated shrimp and beef skewers with stir fry, a DVD showing of “Finding Nemo,” and an early bedtime seemed like the best way to wrap up a long, chilly day.

1. Figure 1 – Jackie examines the battery bank that we just put together at MacZ. These were the batteries slung in by helicopter on 12/11/03. Each battery weighs 70 pounds, so we were relived that we only needed to carry them from the drop zone over to the seismic station.

2. Figure 2 – Jackie and Kurt finish wiring the batteries together into a cascading bank. The goal is to provide a continuous 12-volts to the seismic station.

3. Figure 3 – While this photo was taken at the Cones seismic station, it illustrates the general arrangement of power for the stations – the brown boxes are the two battery banks, each holding nine 12-volt batteries. Wind generators in the center provide energy during the winter, while the solar panels (bottom right) recharge the batteries during the 24-hours of daylight in the summer.

4. Figure 4 – Jackie demonstrates why one should wear their ski goggles on cold days. Her eyelash and eyebrow-cicles mirror the ice formations that form on the guys’ beards.

5. Figure 5 – Peter Kelly installs an antenna at E-1, a seismic station on the other side of the volcano from MacZ. Note the top of the clouds behind him. While McMurdo was stormed in, we were enjoying a cold, but sunny day on Erebus!

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