Friday, November 28, 2008

Scott's hut

Hello Everyone,

Unfortunately, I am having a hard time uploading photos. I've been trying to upload these photos for two days now, and I still did not get to post all of the ones I wanted to. So these will have to do.

The second part of our delta trip was to Scott's hut at Cape Evans. The hut was built in 1910 as headquarters for Robert Falcon Scott's second Antarctic expedition, the Terra Nova expedition. Scott's mission was to be the first human to reach the South Pole. Scott reached the south pole, however, he was preceded by a Norweigan, Roald Amundsen, nearly a month earlier. Scott and his four companions died on their return journey to the hut, trapped in a blizzard, just 11 miles from their next supply depot.

The hut was later reoccupied by members of Shackleton's Ross Sea Party of the Imperial Transantarctic Expedition (ITAE) in 1915. Although subsequently abandoned when a rescue ship arrived, the hut and its contents are remarkably well preserved due to the consistently sub-freezing conditions. An inscription by Dick Richards on the wall near his bunk, lists the names of those who perished during the ITAE, and can still be read today.

Scott's hut

Seal blubber used for food and fuel.

Looks like they were getting ready to cut up a penguin when the rescue ship arrived. The members of the ITAE were stranded at the hut waiting to be rescued, and didn't bother to tidy up before they left.

Dining room table


Sleeping quarters

Penguin eggs.

A memorial cross for members of the ITAE who died in Antarctica.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ice cave

Hello everyone,

Thanks for all the comments. Keep em coming!

Justin, the big spool on the C-17 is cabling for one of the big science projects down here known as the Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory. The Ice Cube project will search for collisions between neutrinos and atoms within the ice. These observations will contribute to our understanding of cosmic rays, supersymmetry, weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPS), and other aspects of nuclear and particle physics that I know nothing about. And Nancy, no I don't really know any of the folks working on the Ice Cube project. They are all based at the South Pole station and I'm working out of McMurdo (roughly 900 miles away). But I do know some other folks from UW-Madison here. My bunkmate last year was a technician from UW-Madison that operated hot water drills for drilling into the ice.

On to the pictures.

A few nights ago I had the oppurtunity to take a delta trip out to Cape Evans. A delta is a big wheeled vehicle used for transportation on the ice (not a mass spectrometer). There's a picture of one below.

Along the way we stopped at the tongue of the Erebus glacier where it flows out onto the frozen sea ice and explored a small ice cave.

After we left the cave, we walked over and checked out some bergs that got trapped in the frozen sea ice.

Part 2 of the delta trip coming soon!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

back to the ice

Hello everyone,

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I enjoy putting it together. It should be a fun season with lots of great stories and lots of great photos. I'm going to try and post more regularly this season so keep checking back. I'm also going to try and include more science and technical stuff this year so if you have any questions please feel free and post them in the comments section. I also plan to do some features about life at McMurdo and other non-science related material so there should be something for everyone.

My trip to the ice started in Christchurch, New Zealand. This is a shot of my hotel, the Windsor. I'm going to post some photos of the Christchurch Botanical Garden in the next day or two.

And this is Winnie the weenie dog. She is in charge of the joint. The Windsor is really her hotel, we're all just staying there. So I try and stay on her good side by sneaking her some table scraps at breakfast.

This is a shot of the CDC (clothing distribution center) in Christchurch. This is wear we receive our ECW (extreme cold weather) gear for the ice. We use a lot of acronyms here.

These are some shots of our flight to Antarctica on the C-17.

Here's one for all you pilots out there. It's picture of the flight map to Antarctica.

Getting off the plane in Antarctica. The runway for this monster plane is located on the frozen sea ice.

A shot of me in front of Mt. Erebus, the world's southernmost volcano. McMurdo, the big US research station where we are staying, is built on a lava flow from this volcano. Mt. Erebus rises 12,541 feet above sea level. The summit contains a persistent convecting phonolitic (intermediate between felsic and mafic composition) lava lake. Characteristic eruptive activity consists of Strombolian type (weak) eruptions from the lava lake or from one of several subsidiary vents, all lying within the volcano's inner crater. Mt Erebus is classified as a polygenetic stratovolcano. The bottom half of the volcano is a shield and the top half is a stratocone. The composition of the current eruptive products of Erebus is anorthoclase-porphyric (feldspar crystals in a fine grained matrix) and tephritic phonolite (volcanic bombs that fall from the air) and phonolite. One of the big projects down here this year will use seismology to image the magma chamber and inner workings of the volcano. Pretty cool!

You can watch videos of eruptions on Erebus here:

Check it out!