21 November, 1996

Nov. 21,

Max. temp - 4.6 C Min. temp - 12.3 C Wind 11 knots trace of snow Jennifer and I arise at 6AM and are shocked to see it is snowing. Not only that, it is a rather gray day. We wonder, "Will we be allowed to go out? Will we get any data?"

We hurry to check out a van, get our survival bag from the cage, pick up our lunch, get hot water in the thermoses for hot chocolate, pick up the 20 bamboo poles with flags, get our digital camera, batteries, diskettes, tape measure, compass, mirror, tripod to hold the mirror, apparatus to measure the show ripples, extra clothes in addition to ECW gear. Did I forget anything? Yes, we had to call the weather station and check to see if it was still condition 3 (OK out at Willie Field. If not, we might not have been able to go out. Weather still condition 3, so we're ready to go, at last at 9AM. Dr. Braaten drove us out to the site and helped us check out which is north on the compass. The automatic weather station where we are gathering data has an antenna aimed exactly in the North direction. We learn to correct the compass about 40 degrees because the magnetic and geographic poles are not aligned. We look at the snow ripples and discover to our horror that the new softly drifting snow has covered them all up and the surface is flat. We drive Dr. Braaten back and return to the site, undaunted. We think that surely we will find something to measure. We set up a grid with the 20 poles and determined their orientation relative to true North.

We tried to get some data, but by now the sun has also gone behind clouds. We were told to keep checking what the weather was like. Out at Willie field you can usually see Mt. Erebus to the East and Mt. Discovery, Black Island, White Island and an iceberg between to the West. We can barely see the iceberg much of the time, and Black and White Islands are nowhere to be seen. At 12:30 we cannot see Mt. Erebus either and the iceberg is gone. Not only that, it is snowing lightly and the horizon is going fast. At least we can still see the orange truck and some of the flags along the road. If we had been able to get data, we would have tried to stay longer despite worsening weather conditions. When it began to snow again we decided to give up. Bummer. We really wanted to get a lot done today. At least we know how to set up the grids and measure with the compass. This is the problem of doing field work.

The snow accumulation here is amazing. People put flags on bamboo poles in the snow to identify things. The poles are at least 6 ft tall. Here and there, you can just see about 1 inch of bamboo pole sticking up from the snow. The rest has been buried.

Jennifer and I pack up and return to McMurdo. We then help with Dr. Braaten's work on the ice cores brought from South Pole. We managed to filter melted snow and search for micro glass beads using a microscope on 3/4 of our samples. The rest will have to wait for tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be a busy day because all equipment must be at the helo pad for weighing in. Usually the passengers have to drag their bags there also and get weighed in, but I think they won't do that this time. This is because they are planning a return load of all the things PLUS 1000 lb. more. We are bringing that many ice samples back.

I met a great group of volcanologists at dinner. One is studying the seismic activity on Mt. Erebus. The two others are studying the gases emitted by it. Evidently the ratio of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide changes prior to eruptions. More CO2 comes out. That's odd. They use infrared and ultra violet spectroscopy to study it. IR is used for the CO and CO2, UV for the SO2. Every meal I learn new things in science. This is such a mentally stimulating atmosphere. This has been such a great opportunity for me.

At helo training yesterday I talked to Jim Chambers, an ASA representative. He thinks I might get a set of ECW gear for about a month to use doing presentations. I have another source for slides also. Wouldn't it be neat if I could go into a classroom dressed up in ECW? Those of us in Florida have no clue what clothing is needed. I will have to pursue this.

We have only one more day to prepare for remote camp site. Then I will not be able to send messages for 6 days. We plan to be back Nov. 29, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner celebration at McMurdo.


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