Field Update: Nov. 14, 2010

Today the UNAVCO team installed the winter GPS at Site #2 using the Kiwi Hagglund. The installation was hard work for everyone because of the strong wind early in the day, but the sun was shining on the return to camp.

Tristan, Graham, Joe and Lisa all went to the southern site (Site #2), where they dug a big hole in the snow to bury the batteries needed to run the system during the winter, which were stored in an insulated case. They set up the three solar panels, the frame, and the antenna, ensured the cables were robust, and then tested the system to confirm a successful install. It took all day and they worked hard to get it done. The fourth GPS station was operating and the UNAVCO team had time to enjoy their last “night” at the ANDRILL Coulman High camp, with the sun shining bright in the sky.

Meanwhile, Claude and I set off to do some ground penetrating radar (GPR) work along the ice shelf to the north of the camp. We went out yesterday to take a look around and we managed to survey and flag one of the gravity survey lines to the northeast, but we ran out of flags by the time we had gone about 22 kilometers and had to return to camp for more. Richard Levy decided to come with us today to help with the flagging.

The wind subsided and the skies cleared as we set off together in the Pisten Bully with its’ long boom and all of the equipment needed to survey and navigate, including pulling a sled behind us loaded with bamboo flags. We travelled north away from camp and headed east along the southern survey line that we had started yesterday, but hadn’t completed because of our lack of sufficient flags. We used portable GPS units to navigate from point to point along the line and placed flags every 500 meters to mark the sites where gravity measurements would be made later in the season by Dr. Gary Wilson and his team from the University of Otago (New Zealand), including a student from the University of California-Santa Barbara. We continued along the survey line for another twenty miles until Richard noticed some fluid leaking from under the rear of the Pisten Bully. It wasn’t leaking too badly, but we wanted to find out what was wrong, so we headed back to camp to get it checked out and make repairs. Our day was over, but we had plenty of work left to do once the vehicle was ready for duty again. We marked the point where we stopped surveying with multiple flags so that we would know where to continue when we started again, and then followed the flags back to camp with Mount Terror looming in the distance to the west.

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