Saturday, October 13, 2007

A road without cracks

Our huts are in a line, sitting out in the middle of nowhere, because our road wasn't safe to cross with the heavy vehicles needed to drag the small buildings. The tipoff was the seals. The weather last week was bitter cold (-32 C, at one point) and the seals like to stay in the relatively warmer seawater (-2 C).

When Fleet Ops was dragging out our camp buildings, they encountered Weddell seals basking in the sun. It was a balmy -16 C and the seals were catching some rays. Of course, anywhere you see seals, you need to look for cracks and thin ice. Sure enough, buried under the foot of snow, there was a thin patch of ice, right across our road.

So, Paul, Matt, Cory and Jessica went out yesterday to find another route. They had to check the thickness of the sea ice periodically to ensure that the ice could support the heavy equipment. This required them to drill into the ice to measure its thickness. It was back breaking work and they had to sample the ice over 30 times.

Here is Matt about to test the sea ice thickness. Notice the PI, sitting on the snowmobile, supervising (and taking GPS coordinates).

Jessica drilling the ice.

Cory testing yet another site with Mt Erebus in the background.Note the clever PI, who is again taking the GPS coordinates. Age and stealth will triumph over youth and enthusiasm every time.


After the Echo drill broke, Paul shows everyone how we used to drill everything by hand with the Kovacs drill. Cory is on the left and Matt is on the right.