The “ground” you see is frozen ocean and because it is a sheet of ice, we need to know that the ice is thick enough to support the heavy vehicles that must drive on it. We test the ice thickness using a power drill, but have to drill in many, many sites. It is especially critical to test the profile of any cracks since it is only safe to cross a crack if it is less than a third of the track length of the vehicle. The Pisten-Bully (the large red vehicle seen below) has a track length of 72”, which means that it can safely cross a crack that is 24” wide.
Here are Brendan and Jessica drilling the ice. They first have to dig down to the ice, which is why you see a hole in the snow.
Kozue is noting the ice thickness and the location of the drill site.
Checking to see if the ice is dry or wet. If it is wet that means the bottom of the ice is near the ocean beneath or that the ice is weakening. However, this early in the season it is too cold for the ice to weaken yet. (Left to right: Kozue, Brendan, and Jessica)
More drilling, the land mass in the distance is Big Razorback Island. (Left to right: Kozue, Brendan, and Jessica)
Note how strong the wind is blowing. After the ice has been tested a flag is erected to mark the road. (Left to right: Jessica, Kozue, and Brendan)
Testing yet another spot. (Left to right: Jessica, Kozue, and Brendan)
Did you notice that the Principal Investigator (Paul) is cleverly letting the younger members do the hard work?