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29 December, 2002

Stream science continued

I'm still a day ahead, so this actually happened on Dec. 28th.

This morning our team split into two again: Karen, Pete, and John went to the Wright Valley to carry out the stream chemistry on the Onyx River. When we are picked up by helicopter, it is our responsibility to pack our own gear into its compartments. Everything must be weighed, and the weight limits of the different compartments must be strictly adhered to so the aircraft will stay balanced in flight. We carefully watched our more experienced team members pack the first helo. The helo pilot dropped the three of them off and then returned for Jen and me. It was a rather harrowing experience to be packing our gear, knowing the safety issues of doing it wrong, and wondering if we were really doing it correctly. Our only lessons had been helping Karen, Pete and John do theirs. We each have to give our weights wearing all our ECW gear - a pretty ugly number on the scale! We packed the rest of the gear for deposit at Lake Hoare where we will live until Jan 1st. We brought only the bare essentials for clothing because we have so much equipment necessary to do our job on the streams by the camp. The helo was packed to the limits - and off we went.

What a spectacular view! I got to sit in the cockpit with the pilot and truly had a birds eye view of the glaciers and mountains. One really neat geographic feature is the polygonal land. From the air, there are certain places that have deep gulleys that divide the area into polygons. It seems that the process is not fully understood, but it is believed to have something to do with the freeze-thaw cycles causing the land to heave and roll leaving these amazing patterns.

Jen and I have moved our sleep kits, which consist of sleeping bag, mat and air mattress, into a Scott tent here at Lake Hoare. You may remember the picture from snow school. It is a large yellow tent shaped like a triangular prism. They are nice because you can stand up inside them, but the door is a double tube that you have to crawl into. I crawled into the first tube with my backpack on and it got stuck. When I tried to back out, I was snared in the middle and couldn't go forward or backward. For a second, I panicked thinking how embarrassed I would feel to have to call to some scientists to help get me out of the tent doorway! I like the space inside the Scott tent, but am not big on the entranceway! It's funny - both of us already feel attached to our little home at F6 and are missing it already. It's kind of crazy to be homesick for a place we have only been living in for two days, but we both have that feeling today!

By the way - Santa's treats ARE here - plates and plates of delicious homemade Christmas cookies. Yum!

For most of the afternoon, Jen and I worked in the lab filtering water samples for Karen and John. There is a protocol for each different sample, so I am working slowly as I re-read directions for each one. I sure do not want to be the one to contaminate a sample! We are using a vacuum pump to filter everything bigger than .4 micrometers out of the water. Okay math students - what part of a meter is a micrometer? See the answer at the end. We filtered water to be tested for anions, cations, nutrients and DOC, or dissolved organic carbon, and I also bottled an unfiltered water sample to test for alkalinity. The actual tests will be done back at Crary Lab in McMurdo.

Thanks to Leslie for the delicious homemade pizza tonight. We ate pizza in the hut - get it!? (That line is thanks to Karen!)

Answer: A micrometer equals 1/1000th of a millimeter, or 1 millionth of a meter. Pretty tiny!

1. Lake Hoare: A new bathroom experience: rocket

toilets! The good news is that you do not have to separate liquids from solids. Notice the black tie on the first door handle - it means that is the next one to be burned.

2. See the propane tanks in back of the toilet

house? It looks something like a rocket ready to take off. The story is that it got it's name from a famous accident while burning the waste - may be an Antarctic legend. I hear it smells pretty awful when it burns, but I haven't had that experience yet.

3. Karen in the front seat as the helo takes off

from F6.

4. Me filtering water in the lab at Lake Hoare.

5. Glacier Heights tent village at Lake Hoare. Nice

view in this suburb, don't you think?

6. Me with a beautiful ventifact near Canada

Glacier. Ventifacts are amazing rock carvings that the strong winds fashion.

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