6 December, 1999
Today’s assignment was to fly to Abbott Peak and take down a GPS ( Global
Positioning System) antenna. These antennas use an array of satellites
circling the earth to determine their exact location (longitude, latitude,
and altitude). If the volcano shifts or moves these numbers will change;
data is recorded every 30 sec. For the last week there have been four GPS
antennas at lower elevation positions around the volcano collecting this
information.. On this trip we picked up the antenna and the data banks so
this system can be moved to its next location. Ten stations will be
recorded by the time this project is completed and a more accurate picture
of the volcano and its movement will be known once the data is analyzed.
This data will provide another piece of the puzzle to the workings of Mt
1. This small peak (actually a volcanic cone) sticking out of the glacier is Abbott Peak. At an altitude of 1793m it is about 2000m below the summit of Mt Erebus.
2. From afar the peak looks large and stable but as we get closer we see it is actually very small. As we approach even more I notice how small the top is and I begin to wonder just exactly where this machine is going to put down.
3. You can see what a small place the helo has to land on. There is no more than 4 feet on either side of the runners. What you see IS the peak, plus what I am standing on. There isn’t anymore. Yes this was an”E” ticket ride, landing and take off. To see the mountain fall away an all sides as we took off set my otherwise cast iron stomach in motion.
4. This is Richard and his Astar helicopter which has given us good service this day.
5. Bjorn Johns is a GPS engineer from Boulder Colorado and here you see him dismantling the GPS antenna system. The Radio tower behind him is used to transmit data from various seismic stations around Mt Erebus and will be left here. All we take is the GPS antenna.
6. Below the peak a part of the Fang Glacier exposes itself to us. The photograph does not do it justice, it was full of various shades of blue and white. The part you see here is perhaps 50 feet high, rock bed to top.
7. A view out to the Ross Sea from Abbott Peak. This was a glorious event and on this day, I love my job.
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