4 December, 2001
This day began with a bit of a lesson on the crystals that are found all around the summit and crater rim of Erebus. Bill McIntosh hauled out a bag of anorthoclase feldspar crystals, and discussed their symmetry, different mechanisms by which "twins" are formed, the reasons for their surface appearance, and how they are formed within the magma chamber. I hope to return with some samples myself. That was at one o'clock AM. I went to bed and woke up to...a true Antarctic gale! It was -25 degrees Celsius, with winds gusting up to 20 knots. We were basically "in hut" for the morning. A planned helicopter drop was scrapped, and nine people busied themselves with laptops, soldering irons, notebooks, and other chores. The afternoon settled down enough for the helicopter to visit, the GPS people to get out and check a few sites, and I gathered volcanic ash from the surface of the snow. I am affixing it to slides to view under the microscope, much like the Pele's Hair. Through the microscope it looks nothing like it does on the ground, or even in your hand. Again, the glassy nature of material spewed out of the volcano is evident upon close inspection.
In the afternoon, the weather came back even stronger. This feels like Antarctica! The windchill factor was 80 degrees below zero (F), with the temperature well below negative 20. The sky is blue. When the blowing snow isn't in your way, visibility is unlimited. The clouds are windblown sculptures. With good gear, it's pretty cool to be outside. For a little while....
Another technical detail. I'm still having a lot of difficulty posting journal entries (sorry I whine about this so much, but it's taking hours....) Also, when this system randomly works I post pictures for older journal entries. So if you've already read entries without pictures, there may be some there now. I'll keep plugging away.
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