Survival of the fittest on the Darwin Across from camp, seven triangular ridges expose layers of granites and metasediments, sandwiched between steep tributary icefalls. Reaching the cliffs requires crossing the five-mile-wide Darwin Glacier. Although the Darwin has a central corridor of shiny sun-scoured blue ice, strips of crevasses line the edges. Melt water runs in and amongst crevasses, creating mazes of small channels and deep cracks. Complicating navigation, variable amounts of wind-blown snow cover and hide the surface of the glacier. Fortunately, we have been joined by Alaska Larry, a mountaineering guide on Denali in the other summer, to help navigate the Darwin.

sexo con consolador

After an hour of zig-zagging between crevasses on snowmobiles, we reached a tumultuous region where the ice falls merge with the blue wavy ice of the Darwin. Larry dismounted every several yards to poke and probe the ice, but I kept my ice axe convenient in case I needed to make a hasty jump off a tumbling snowmobile. I can testify that the machines have an impressive ability to bridge crevasses up to two feet wide (if on a perpendicular trajectory of the crack) and we eventually made it through a hazardous rollercoaster course to the cliffs. Cramponing up a steep snow chute provided great access to several prominent granite layers that we sampled while hiding from occasional loose rocks crumbling from the cliffs above, thawed by the afternoon sun. 

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Some new videos

Now that John is back in Santa Barbara he’s had a chance to upload some videos. Check out these selection (there are a bunch more on our youtube channel – Antarctica360). They play best if you open the Youtube link in the lower right of each video.

A ride across the Radian Glacier on a skidoo at 8x speed. The skidoo sound isn’t normally quite this bad…
Our first camp put. Flying into the field from McMurdo station

Bryan’s review of the Tundra skidoo – our trusty field vehicle…

Graham’s mineralogy exam

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Christmas Day in Antarctica!

A lot has happened since are last blog update, including the celebration of our first Antarctic Christmas. Jo and Bryan made a tree out of snow and decorated it with miscellany from camp. Santa Claus came, even for Graham. Bryan and Graham did some shovel-sledding (videos to come pending bandwidth), and Jo cooked a feast– by Antarctic or any standards. It wasn’t quite the same as home, but we had a great time regardless.

Panorama Glacier Christmas Tree

Monday was business as usual. We had he snowmobiles slung back to Mac Town for lack of appropriate terrain, so all of our work has been on foot. We have trekked across the panorama glacier a couple of times and also checked out some of the rocks close to camp. The new field area has introduced a great deal of variety of the geology, and Graham and Bryan are reinspired. A particular highlight was finding huge books of biotite, the largest weighing in at over 20 lbs! We walked back with overloaded packs full of samples for mineralogy class– hopefully our students don’t need a hand lens to identify a Bt crystal the size of their heads!

Very large Biotite Crystals!

We have just past the half-way point of our field season. For those of you anxiously awaiting our return, especially Mike awaiting Graham, we will see you soon! I promise, we will shower first! The last few weeks will fly by, as did the first few. At first it seemed that we had a surplus of time, but we are now trying to maximize our efficiency to get everything done! Cheep Cheep!

Shovel sledding on Christmas day

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Slight failure in comms…

So it seems we had a slight failure in our communication system, this blog is actually from December 15 but it didn’t get to me then. So here it is now!
Any excitement over the past few days has been completely outdone by the arrival of the fourth member of our party. Captain Oates will be a quiet, yet significant member of our team, assisting us to stay positive and in good humour whilst not consuming too many of our resources. See photo of him keeping an eye on the weather for us, out the tent door.

The last couple of days have been a mixed bag – another day of low cloud and big fat snowflakes saw Graham go almost insane and Bryan retreat to his sleeping bag. In an attempt to ward off cabin fever, Graham and Jo spent the afternoon developing an aerobics routine to Blondie ‘Heart of Glass’ much to Bryan’s dismay. We plan to post the video once we’ve perfected the routine.

Yesterday we were stoked and relieved to wake to improved weather and finally some SUNSHINE! We’d forgotten what it felt like to have the warmth of the sun on our skin (faces) and to make all the daily tasks seem that much easier. With heaps of snow still lying on the slopes and outcrops and the weather not completely settled we decided to head across the Walcott – our closest destination. Our walk through Dr Seuss-land was made more bizarre and stunning by the additional 3 inches of creamy sparkly snow topping all the features. The fresh snow also made the trip a bit more challenging, as we were unable to determine what sort of ice was hiding underneath. Once we reached the slopes on the northern side of the Walcott it was crampons off and another day of interesting measuring and sampling whilst Jo amused herself with the lightest, fluffiest snow that she had ever seen. By mid-afternoon the clouds had thickened and clusters of stellars were again falling on us. We headed further up the hill but soon found the geologizing difficult with the thick snow layer hiding many interesting features. The descent was somewhat slippery until we reached a ‘road’ conveniently carved back down the hill. Back across the Walcott and through Dr Seuss-land with our tracks barely visible from the new snow that had fallen during the day. Satay for dinner and we weren’t long out of bed. To our surprise and delight the sun burst through the clouds just as we were brushing our teeth and continued to shine through the walls of out tents as we fell asleep.

This morning we were treated to views of the mountains that we had forgotten existed – Dromedary and Huggins against a blue sky. Yay for sunshine and warmth. This beautiful weather was unfortunate timing as we were expecting visitors to our camp this afternoon for the first time so couldn’t get out to work. We’d received a message from MacTown that the Environmental Officer would like to bring some NSF representatives to view our camp set-up. This proposed visit had provided us with a great source of amusement and distraction over the past couple of days, so it was with some disappointment that the helicopter containing our visitors arrived two hours early. Fortunately our camp was already in good order and our visitors were impressed with what we had going on here – a tidy, compact base camp in a beautiful environment. They had a couple of suggestions for us and we provided them with some feedback so the trip was mutually beneficial. In addition to bringing us some baking from MacTown, still warm, our visitors were kind enough to deliver our mail and some other items we required. The afternoon was spent opening our packages and enjoying the delights within. Graham’s feet are now toasty warm with his new down booties and Jo shared her Dark Ghana chocolate with the boys whilst reading copies of the Listener magazine. (Bryan’s family and friends – put something in the post soon, he felt left out!). Thank you to all those who sent us mail, it’s a great joy to receive in the field. A special thank you to Jo’s folks for Captain Oates, the inflatable Emperor penguin, who has already begun an integral part of out team.

To our dismay the sky clouded over yet again and snowflakes fell from the sky, our sunshine and views once again hidden. This weather cycle is becoming somewhat tedious because even if we can get out onto the slopes, the snow has no chance to melt meaning the time spent is less efficient than desirable. On the plus side, we were delivered a weather monitor today as well, so we can now keep an eye on the wind speed and wind chill. Watching the temperature drop by 60 C with the slightest breeze has increased our understanding of the cold we’ve been experiencing.  Captain Oates is more than content with the cold climate but we are hoping that this weather system will move on and we can get out there and geologise some more.

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Artefact hunting

Sunny day at camp
Mount Dromedary

Sorry that we haven’t updated in a few days. We are finally hard at work again, after about a week of bad weather during which we were only able to work for a couple days. The best part about snow days is pancakes for breakfast and dinner tadalafil generique! Reminds Graham of school snow days in Vermont. We have worked the last few days, but have been slightly hampered by ~6 inches of fresh snow covering all of the rocks. We succeeded in getting useful data and samples through diligence and outcrop sweeping. The last couple of days have been sunny and nice!

A few days ago, while working on a remote ridge at ~1200 m, we noticed a couple of blankets wedged between some boulders. Bryan thought for sure that they were the last attempt at a shelter by a now mummified explorer. We gingerly pulled them out with our ice axes, but to our dismay, there were no other artefacts.  We are now in possession of two raggy US Navy wool blankets.

The geologizing has been going well. Today we had helicopter close support and were able to access a few remote areas  including Heald Island in the Koettlitz glacier. We flew over some of the highest peaks in our field area, including Mount Dromedary, and the views were incredible. We scoped out the location of our next camp. The terrain looks relatively accommodating, although it will be considerably colder camping at ~2000 m.

Until next time, have fun and don’t forget to stimulate your gums!!!


Jo and Bryan and Helo

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