Field Update: Jan. 5, 2011

Dustin and Paul from the SCINI team flew back to Christchurch this morning, but Bob Zook stayed behind to pack all of the SCINI equipment for shipment back to the United States. This packing and sorting exercise is an essential step in concluding each deployment to Antarctica and we are looking at a lot of work to get the whole ANDRILL camp packed up and all of the containers winterized and ready for storage at the end of the season. This will all happen as part of the end of the season traverse back to McMurdo from Coulman High – a bit of déjà vu from the start of the season.

We had a refueling traverse out to the Coulman High camp in mid-December, which brought much needed propane for the Galley stove and fuel to replace all that we had used around the camp for hot water drilling, power generation, and the vehicles. The refueling traverse was a smaller version of the initial start of season traverse, and some of the same people were involved, including Steve Zellerhoff, Julian Ridley and Dean Martin as tractor drivers. They also brought Julie Bonneau with them. She has been the lead planner for our project at RPSC and everyone at camp was happy that she had the chance to see everything that she had helped plan come to fruition. She’s the one in the blue jacket in the picture below.

Everyone came out to meet the traverse and it became the highlight of this season’s social calendar – a change of pace and a break from the isolation!

The additional people meant we needed to make more water, so we filled the tank with clean snow to melt and then transferred the water inside in jugs.

The wind helps with our water supply by piling drifts of snow behind the living containers in an area where we restrict vehicle traffic to keep the snow clean and uncontaminated. The water tank is enclosed in a tri-wall cardboard box with cargo straps around it to keep it closed when we’re not filling it with snow. There is a heater element in the tank to melt the snow and an insulated plumbing connection sticks out on the side of the tank to allow us to attach a small pipe and valve to draw out the water. This attachment hangs on a string inside the carboard box when not in use to prevent the valve or the pipe from freezing and cracking in the cold wind. It all works well as long as whomever takes water out of the tank remembers to put more snow back inside – otherwise the water level falls and the next person has to shovel a lot more snow to fill the tank back up again. Everyone at the camp depends on everyone else to think about how their decisions impact the quality of life at the camp – thinking of others means that we can all live in harmony and enjoy our time together, even with all the work!

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