20 November, 2004
What does it look like where you live?
McMurdo Station is not very pretty but the surrounding area is AWESOME. There are more than 100 buildings here. Some buildings are left over from many years ago and have a military look (Quonset huts) since they were built by the U.S. Navy. Many newer buildings have been constructed especially for the cold weather and are more functional than they are pretty. A good example is the picture below of the central bus stop. Actually, we don't have buses; we use vans to move people around town and larger vehicles to take people to places outside of McMurdo, like the Ice Runway.
The population at McMurdo changes almost daily because there are always groups of researchers coming and going between the remote field camps and McMurdo and back home again. This summer the population has been around 1000 people most of the time, but I have seen it over 1200 people and as low as 600 people. With this many people, McMurdo needs a lot of the same things that any American city needs such as a firehouse, library, church, airport, water and wastewater treatment plant, electric power plant, and of course a hospital. We don't have a police department, however, but we do have a large, modern science laboratory, Crary Laboratory, where hundreds of scientists and researchers work. I think Crary Lab is probably the most interesting building in McMurdo. Below are some pictures around town.
One of the great things about my job is that I get to travel around the area and there are some beautiful places outside McMurdo. An interesting site is the southernmost active volcano in the world, Mt. Erebus. Mt. Erebus constantly erupts and there is usually smoke coming from the cone. The eruptions are small and it has been erupting for thousands of years. Scientists who study Erebus say that so long as it continues to have small eruptions regularly, we are safe. If you want to see some video clips of Mt. Erebus erupting, you can visit their website; they even have a live-cam looking into the volcano! <http://www.ees.nmt.edu/Geop/Erebus/erebus.html>
Close to McMurdo is a very high hill called Observation Hill, we call it Ob Hill. It is a volcanic cinder cone. This is a fantastic place to hike and get a good view of the area. There is a big wooden cross on Ob Hill that serves as a memorial for Robert Falcon Scott and his South Pole expedition team members. Scott was a British explorer who froze to death while returning from the South Pole. He hoped his expedition would be the first to reach the South Pole, but when they got there on January 17, 1912, they found a tent with a note in it from Roald Amundsen, an explorer from Norway. Amundsen made it to the South Pole just 34 days before Scott, on December 14, 1911.
There are other places we can go to on Ross Island including Castle Rock. Geologists say that a volcano under the Antarctic ice created Castle Rock! About 12,000 years ago there was a lot more ice here, enough to cover Ross Island. The ice melted and left this big rock.
Another beautiful place on Ross Island is the terminus of the Barne Glacier, not far from Cape Evans.
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