Wednesday, December 12, 2007

lab photos


Hope everyone is doing well back in North America. Here at the bottom of the world we are busy testing equipment and sending supplies to our field camp in the Patriot Hills. We should have everything ready to go by this evening. It will be nice to finally have some down time. So far we've been working about 14 hours a day. But before we head to the Patriot Hills, we will install two stations via fixed wing from McMurdo. We will fly a C-130 to Siple dome on Monday, install a station, spend the night there at a field camp in a mountain tent, then fly to Mt. Patterson the next day on the Basler, install a station, then return to Siple dome for another night, and then fly back to McMurdo on the C-130. I don't expect any of that to happen on schedule but we shall see. The planes are frequently grounded due to weather. And in this case we will have to have good weather at 3 sites to complete the mission. Not likely. I've posted a map of our field sites below so you can get an idea of where we'll be. Also, you can get more information about the project and each of our field sites including photos, aerial photos, geologic information, etc from Just click on each of the site names. There are lots of good pictures of Mt. Patterson. Check it out by following the link below!

Send your questions/comments/feedback! Scott, Kaare, and Krystal - you guys are awesome. Thanks for posting. But I'm just kind of curious if anyone else is actually reading this blog...

Ok, on to the pictures. These are just some shots from around our lab on the ice runway. We are working out of a Jamesway. Which I believe is surplus from the Korean War. Apparently, the only ones left in the world are down here on the ice. Basically it is a tent in the shape of a half-cylinder equipped with power and the internet.

Me in the Jamesway.

Me doing some equipment testing. The big orange box is our station box that holds the electronic equipment and keeps it warm. We have a heating pad and about a foot of blue foam to keep the box insulated. We also get some heat produced from the equipment itself and the batteries. The box is designed to hold 10 12V batteries that will power the station through the long, sunless, Antarctic winter. During the summer months we will power the station with solar energy.

Our equipment inside the station box. The large orange box on the left is the Q330 datalogger and and the small orange box is the baler (flash memory drive) and the clear see through box is the power control unit. On the right is a battery.

This is a picture of the seismometer (or sensor) itself. It is the main component of the entire station. It sits on the bedrock outside of the station box. The sensor is designed to record the ground motion of the earth in the vertical, NS, and EW directions over a broad range of frequencies. This allows us to analyze the three dimensional ground motions for very fast movements such as earthquakes and very slow movements such as tides.

Dome covers for the sensors (seismometer). These will help protect the sensor from the harsh elements and provide thermal stability. We expect the average ambient temperature during the winter to be about -50F. The covers are insulated to prevent large temperature fluctuations.

View out the door of our Jamesway of a C-130 with the Transantarctic Mountains in the background. I think the Transantarctics are the most beautiful mountain range in the world.

Me out the door of our Jamesway with the C-130 Hercules fleet in the background. Around here we call them Hercs or herkybirds.

A shot of me on the ice runway.

Me in front of the Jamesway. (Sorry, these are all overexposed. Obviously I didn't take them.)

The outside of our Jamesway with some equipment testing going on.

Inside the Jamesway.

View from the rear of our Jamesway of Mt. Erebus. Mt. Erebus is an active volcano. However, it is the non-explosive type so no need to worry. On some days you can observe a steam plume spouting from the top of the mountain. The plume is not volcanic gases but rather condensing water vapor over the hot lava lake at the crater. If I can catch a good picture of this phenomonomenon, I will post it.

In the next post, pictures from Mactown (McMurdo Station) or as people have been calling it around here lately, McMudpuddle.



Mom said...

I am enjoying the blog and all of my friends are too. Keep us posted. I'm also printing the photos and reading everything to Grandma. It looks like you're having warm weather there. It's snowing and cold here.
Love, Mom

Ryan said...

Dude, you know I'm reading this stuff. I've also passed the link to everyone I work with. keep it coming...Hopefully your plotting to catch a few of those trout on your way back! Great pictures!

Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan said...

Yo Mitch I that deleted that post, for some reason my first comment posted twice?

MFA said...

Your mom has me hooked on your blog! I would like to share it with my fourth graders. We just finished studying ecosystems and rock formations. I am sure they would love to know anything about life on 'the ice'. For example: Why aren't you wearing a coat in the outdoor photos? Your mom is probably wondering that, too! Take care of yourself and keep up this wonderful blog!
Mom's Friend Amy (MFA)

Scane said...


Is there any reason that you are not wearing a coat in the photos. I know it has to be cold. Really enjoying the blog and keeping posting the interesting photos. Hope all is well.


skua76 said...

Hi Mitchell,
Just found your blog because of the crash. Were you involved? They say no injuries so I hope you are really OK (and have a story to tell).

I'm not sure NSF (in the press release) or PoleNet have the right "Mt. Patterson" identified. I think it should be "Paterson." There is also a Patterson Peak elsewhere.

kfourcat said...


Nice pics. Looks like a lot of fun. Disc golf? That's awesome. Missed you at Mardi Gras yesterday, it was a pretty good time. I've officially mastered Mario Cart and I'm going pro next month. Thanks for letting me look after your gamecube. can't wait to here all about your trip, call me as soon as you get back in town.... FAHT

lang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chuck said...

Never been to Antarctica, or in a plane, incident. What an adventure! Place looks hard on airplanes, you need to talk them into borrowing some V-22 tiltrotors to get around. Sorry to hear about your Grandma. Might see you when you get back. Nice pics, thanks.

Have fun,
Chuck Duello

thefreaknextdoor said...

This blog is amazing.