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11 December, 1999

Fumaroles Part 2 of 2

When a volcano is studied, one of things scientists want to know is how much, and what, gas(es) are coming from the earth’s interior. Mt Erebus is no exception. Jean Wardell has a 2 part job to find the answer to this question. First she works on the emissions which come directly from the crater. Second she must hunt down the ice cones all around the mountain to determined the amount of degassing the volcano does through them. Adding these two amounts will give the total output of the volcano. In the Dec 10 journal, you saw many of these ice cones formed when the gases find their way to the earth’s surface and freeze in the Antarctic cold. The pictures below will show how she gets into the fumaroles to test the gases and what they look like on the inside. Two rock climbers, Chas Day and Forrest McCarthy, are on the mountain to help her and are hired as field safety personal here in Antarctica.

1. Chas anchors in an ice picket to support the ropes Jean will use to climb the Fork.

2. This fumaroles was high on the crater rim. You can see the Ross Sea in the background

3. Jean being held by Chas as she climbs this ice cone to reach the gas hole.

4. My favorite ice cone, named the Whale. Here Jean and Forrest get the equipment ready to lower Jean down into this one.

5. Jean climbing down an ice tower, notice the crampons on her boots. The ice cones are solid ice.

6. Jean has her analyzers out and is checking for temperature, relative humidly, wind speed and CO2 concentration.

7. Another view of Jean on an ice cone. Here she is supported by Forrest.

8. Jean is down inside this cone, but remains attached to Forrest so that she can make her way out

9. From inside the cone you can see Jean holding her anemometer ( the instrument that measures wind speed) Knowing the wind speed and the size of the hole, Jean can calculate the amount of gas emitted.

10. One of the fantastic structures inside these remarkable ice cones.

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