18 November, 1998
Wednesday, November 18th, 1998
Hi everyone! Good news in our meeting this morning. They will be sending people out to visit the drill site, now that the steering committee has just about completed their visit. I am scheduled to go out on Friday night. They send about 4 people at a time out to Cape Roberts by helicopter, and we will stay for about 24 hours. During our visit we will stay at the Cape Roberts camp…several temporary buildings. We will be flown to the drill site by helicopter…only a short 6-7 minute ride. I have heard that we come back to camp by Skidoo-hope that's true! We will get to see the drill process in action, and learn how they analyze and describe the core just after it is brought up and sliced in half. I am anxious to learn about this part of the project.
Today's core went from 307.32 through 331.00 and the drill hole is currently down to 412 meters. Things continue to go well at the drill site. They expect to drill to about November 25th if the ice continues to be stable and safe. They need to stop drilling in time for the downhole loggers to put their instruments down the drill hole and make their measurements. I will be talking about the downhole loggers later on .
Today's core was VERY different looking, compared to what we have been seeing. It was thinly laminated sandstone and siltstone, with good sedimentary structure. They haven't found a single fossil or trace fossil in this section of core. The lithology (what the core if composed of and how those sediments were deposited) of the core has changed significantly.
Again I labeled yesterday's samples and measured magnetic susceptibility. Later Fabio and I drilled 38 new samples from today's core. This seems to be our daily routine now. I am helping out a lot in the lab…and learning a lot about geology, too. I am going to record Chris Fielding one of these days…during his regular morning talks in the core sampling room, Chris gives us the lithology and background on the core. He goes through each section and gives details noted at the drill site, and by the sedimentologists here at Crary Lab. The huge words he uses often confuse me, but I seem to know more each day. I try to take notes and listen carefully so that I can learn as much as possible.
I spent some time tonight helping Tom Ehnstrom, one of the welders, download his digital photos from his camera to my laptop, and then later to a disk. He's letting me use his photos of Antarctica along with my own. It's a welcome addition of images…you will be seeing some of them today with this journal.
Since I have time today, I'd like to tell you a little bit about another one of the stations in Antarctica…South Pole Station. The existing facility was completed in 1975. It replaced the original station which was built in 1956-57. The current technologies, related to power, water, fuel storage, and communications are all inadequate to meet the modern needs of the station and its inhabitants. The station was first built to accommodate 33 men in the austral summer. It currently houses over 120 scientists and support personnel and 80 people on the construction staff in the summer. 167 people are housed in temporary surface buildings, which are nicknamed "Summer Camp." These are insulated canvas and wood structures left over from the Korean War in 1950.
So, as you can see, there is a BIG need for a new South Pole Station. One is currently under construction, and is scheduled to be completed by the year 2005. The new structure is elevated about 10 feet and can be raised to accommodate the accumulation of snow. The new structure is modular and panelized…everything must be transported to the South Pole by Hercules cargo plane. The new station will house at least 110 people. It will use alternative energy sources such as waste heat recovery and solar energy. This new structure is the result of over 8 years of studies and planning.
Special considerations for building a new South Pole Station include:
1) The South Pole is only accessible during 4 months of the year. It is accessible by airplane only.
2) Materials and supplies used to build this station have to be shipped by sea from the United States to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. These materials and supplies are then transported to South Pole Station.
3) The structures at the South Pole are built on the polar plateau…the elevation is 9,450 feet above sea level. This is over two miles of ice that shifts with the ice sheet at about 33 feet per year.
4) The average ambient temperature at the South Pole is -49 degrees F (-15 degrees C)
5) At the South Pole there is 6 months of daylight, 6 months of darkness.
6) If you are at the South Pole, you are about 838 miles from the nearest person…McMurdo Station is FAR away.
7) Although is doesn't snow much at the South Pole (less than 1 foot per year), the accumulated drifting and wind can be major concerns.
Well, I learned a lot…how about you? Today's photos have nothing to do with the South Pole…I haven't been there to take any pictures. These are some aerial views of McMurdo taken from Observation Hill by Tom Ehnstrom. It's great because the day he hiked up there with friends, it had snowed. I will try to find some South Pole pictures that I can send to you. Talk to you tomorrow.
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