Thursday, December 24, 2015

Changing of the Guards & Homeward Bound

Emma, Drew and I pulled in camp from Black Island last Monday in time to meet Professor Marchant and our fellow Antarctic Ambassador Dan upon their arrival in McMurdo.

We had a successful time at Black Island, collecting 20 erratic rock samples which will undergo cosmogenic nuclide dating once they are shipped back to Boston in April. Other than the 3 day snow storm which kept us bundled in our tents, and the occasional fog which created very low visibility, we experienced fairly good weather as the heat of the summer season rolled in.
Emma and I sunbathing for a few minutes in the "hot" weather.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hydrated salts

A few days ago while we dug soil pits in the moraine near camp, we discovered ice buried beneath the surface.  This find is exciting as the ice could be remnant glacial ice from the last glacial period.  If it's glacier ice, then we definitely know that the ice sheet extended to that point and that the local climate on Black island has remained cold enough for ice to survive for over 10,000 years. Once we have the sample back in the lab, we can analyze the oxygen isotopes of the ice to determine the origin of the ice; it could be glacial (ice sheet), marine (the ocean), or meteoric (snowfall). 
Natalie and I begin to dig a pit.

Monday, December 14, 2015

G-054 Cookbook: Tasty Meals on a Coleman Stove

A complete how-to guide on making nutritious, vegetarian meals for three hungry campers!

2 packets instant oatmeal (1 flavored, 1 regular)
Dried Fruit
Grape Nuts

Combine ingredients in a bowl, add hot water, stir, and enjoy!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Black Island.

Well, we’re all settled in our next (and my last) field camp. Yesterday was camp put in. It was a really, really long day. We spent several hours pitching the tents, and setting things in place. The hardest part of pitching the tents is finding enough large, heavy, rocks to make rock anchors for the tent chords, and place on the valence. It was a grueling process, but the efforts were worth it. We now have a secure and cozy little home nestled onto the desolate nothingness that is Black Island.
Today, being the first day in camp, was a recon day. We spent most of the day hiking the entire length of the moraine we want to study. We trudged along for a little over 8 hours and 6 miles, eyeing spots for sampling and pit digging. We were impeded in several spots by large snow drifts flowing down the ridge sides. We would then have to hike all the way down and around them. That wasn’t so bad. It was much worse hiking back up to the top of the moraine. We definitely earned our chili dinner today. 
Drew and Nat set up camp.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Discovering Mount Discovery: A Photo Retrospective

Today is our last day at our Mount Discovery camp. Tomorrow we will move east to Black Island. We will camp close to Mount Aurora, the highest peak on the island. We have spent our days here collecting lots of samples of granite, dolerite rocks and algae, digging pits, and mapping the moraine. Here are some highlights from our time at Discovery!

Crazy clouds over Mt Discovery

All about that base (station)... more Trimble!

Hey readers! Today's blog is brought to you by both of our Antarctic reporters Emma AND Natalie! 
Natalie and Em rocking down our Trimble GPS base station.
Yesterday we surveyed the moraine. It was a long grueling day, but I think all of this heavy lifting is a good thing in the long run. Surveying the moraine includes using a GPS to map it's latitude and longitude coordinates, as well as elevation. We took both one long continuous (or mostly continuous) run of the moraine in order to better place it on our maps. We also took point measurements where each cosmogenic nuclide sample was, so we know exactly where all of our data comes from, and how old each part of the moraine is. This, as you can imagine, involve A LOT of hiking. (In total it was about 10 miles.) Plus to be more efficient, while Drew used the GPS, we picked up and carried the cosmo samples all the way back to camp. So, we carried rocks. On our backs. For miles. On rocky terrain... It was a fun day! Very tiring, but very productive as well. Now it's time for a little lesson on GPS. The more we learn about it, the more fascinating it becomes, so we thought we'd share!