24 October, 1996

Setting up a remote camp is a major undertaking, and the responsibility fell on Jim Mastro. The PI's wanted samples collected at New Harbor because it is an ecologically unique area. It is a small harbor on the west side of McMurdo Sound where the benthos is significantly different than where we have been working up to this point. This means there is the potential to collect organisms that were not found at the other dive sites. Although there is a field research camp established at New Harbor, it hasn't been used in two years.

Jim had to arrange for all food, fuel, water, and science equipment to be transported here. When the advanced team of Jim, Pat, Chris, and Jenni, got to the camp and began unpacking they found their food had thawed and suspected that it might have spoiled. A case of food poisoning or diarrhea at a remote camp isn't a pleasant thought. Rather than take a risk, it was decided to send in a new food supply. The new plan is for me to fly into New Harbor with the provisions and also help set up the camp.

The camp is at the mouth of the Taylor Dry Valley, one of the few places in Antarctica that is not permanently covered with ice. Taylor Valley was formed eons ago by rivers of ice that slowly moved from the interior to the edge of the continent. At the head of the valley geological forces have uplifted the mountains and cut off the advancing glaciers. The air moving over the mountains is compressed and its moisture removed. As the air moves down the other side of the mountains it is cooled and has a very low relative humidity. The air is so dry that any snow that may have been brought in by the coastal easterly winds is sublimated. This process makes this region the driest place on earth.

I feel fortunate to be one of the few people to venture into the Antarctic Dry Valleys.

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