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Monday, November 26, 2007: A day in the sunshine
Today we are working on access to two sites that are several kms away from McMurdo, Turtle Rock and Cinder Cones. We have been laying the groundwork by helping the Field Safety folks survey the area to be sure there is a safe way around the cracks for the large vehicles to travel, and flagging those routes. Today we accompanied Tom the driller out to put in the holes, and put a hut, kindly shared by another researcher, Amy Moran of the ANUDE project, on one of them.
Some of the beautiful pressure ridges, areas where
the ice has been pushed up against the shore,
at Turtle Rock.


We’ve talked before about the drilling operation, so I’ll skip another description of the shoveling exercise. Because of the sea ice cracks at Turtle Rock, we could not get to one of the sites we wanted to drill. So we carefully surveyed the naturally occurring openings in the cracks for one that the ROV would fit through. Fortunately, this location is extensively utilized by Weddell seals as a pupping area, and they have contributed to easy access to the ocean. We found a hole that was large enough, and had solid ice nearby where we could park the Tucker, our control center.
Setting up for drilling at Turtle Rock.

Today was one of the few clear days we have had so far this season, with blue sky and an awesome view of Mt. Erebus and even glimpses of Mt. Terror. We enjoyed the sunshine, and the calling and whinging of the new pups as they searched for mom and more milk. It is hard to imagine that the seals are comfortable laying on the cold ice, but they give a convincing demonstration of absolute contentment, flopped about bonelessly and only occasionally worming their way into a more comfortable position. They took almost no notice of us, our shovels, or even the tractor and drilling rig.
Mother and pup pairs of Weddell seals decorate the icescape at Turtle Rock.

At Cinder Cones the drilling went even more smoothly, and we are eager to dive here because the ice is clear of snow – so there should be lots of light underwater. We finished our two holes in short order, paid our respects to the gorgeous views of the Royal Society Range, Mt. Erebus, and Castle Rock, and returned home in time to make it to dinner with the Kiwis.
The slopes at the base of Mt. Erebus are beautifully fissured and crevassed.

We had a kind invitation from fish researcher Victoria Metcalf to come to dinner at Scott Base, New Zealand’s research station which is only a few km from McMurdo. Scott Base is smaller than McMurdo, and thus has better food and a more personalized atmosphere, if slightly less sophisticated lab facilities. We thoroughly enjoyed excellent John Dory fish, and pumpkin phyllo wraps, as well as conversation on fish behavior and physiology and a tour of the aquarium, and of course a wonderful view of the pressure ridges in front of the base. A brilliant end to a beautiful day!
Clear water ice melting in the warm Antarctic sun.


Hi SCINI Team, It is fine that you drill holes without me, but I miss the SHOVELING! It looks like 4 team members are wearing silly hats these days! Mindy

The silly hat punishment does not seem to be effective at getting people to post their blogs in a timely manner. Suggestions for alternative punishments are welcome!

Good words.

Hey Stacy - maybe assigning the sewage sample collection to the person with the most blog delinquencies would spark some interest in blog timeliness.

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This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ANT-0619622 ( Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.