Field Update: Nov. 17, 2010

Today Claude and I drove the Pisten Bully north to flag the shot hole and geophone locations for the seismic refraction experiment later in the season. The hot water drill team continued to make the hole through the ice shelf in preparation for making oceanographic measurements, while others set up the “geo-web” experiment involving a mesh of interlocking cells – a cellular confinement system, which we are testing in order to understand if it can provide a strong surface for supporting the weight of the drill rig and other equipment in future years.

While all of this is going on, other measurements are being made automatically and recorded to preserve a log of surface conditions at the site (wind speed and direction, temperature, pressure, relative humidity). Dar Gibson, who was a weather observer at South Pole in previous seasons on the ice, set up a recording weather system when we first arrived at the camp (see pictures below). It will remain at this location throughout the summer accumulating data that will help us to understand variations in conditions on the scale of minutes to days.

The instruments are set up away from containers and other structures and are surrounded by flags to keep vehicles and people away from the area so that the measurements are as accurate as possible. Vehicles and people steer clear and the route north swings wide to avoid the site.

Looking south from the weather station one can see the living quarters of the ANDRILL camp with the Galley, Mess, and berthing containers all pushed together as a unit, as well as a Scott Tent off to the side. Graham Roberts has really taken to life in the Scott tent and quite enjoys sleeping there. It is pitched right in front of NZ (enn-zed)-10, a container that has four bunk beds and a microwave oven, which works when the container is connected to power from a generator. There is also a small heater inside to make it warm.

The NZ-10 container is where Claude and I have been sleeping since arriving in camp. It’s very comfortable and can be easily towed on the trailer it sits on with skis underneath to let it traverse along with the other containers. It has three windows in addition to the main door and several other penetrations through the walls to allow extension cords or communications wires to be passed through, both in and out. The living is no-frills, but with a sleeping bag, a pillow and a place to store stuff, it’s as good as it gets out here on the Ross Ice Shelf. The windows face three different directions, and the sun circles around, so you can look out to see which direction the wind is blowing and where the sun is when you wake after sleeping or before you go to bed. You can even see Mount Terror.

There’s not a lot of privacy in camp due to the nature of the living arrangements, but everyone makes due and finds a bit of space. I found Richard Levy out in front of the link-way trimming his beard and so I took his picture for this blog – and to show off his stylish NZ ECW gear.

One of the most important members of our community is Russell Freeman, who is the camp cook. He’s very good and we’re all eating well!!

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