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26 December, 2002

This is Nancy Chabot, guest-posting for Andy. I've been meaning to post for a while, but well, I guess my excuse is that I've been busy. This is my third season in Antarctica as part of ANSMET, but for me, this time is a very new experience. This time, I'm the lead scientist for our field team. What does that mean exactly? I'm a research scientist at Case Western Reserve University, working with Ralph Harvey, the principal scientist of ANSMET. For months before the field season, we looked at aerial photos and satellite images, planning out the goals for this season. Now that we're here, it's my job to try and carry out those goals. Basically, along with Jamie, I decide what we do from day to day.

So, how are those goals coming so far? I'm really pleased with how much progress we've made to date, though of course there is still a lot to do. Before our traverse, we recovered 90 meteorites from near Goodwin nunataks. Here at Mac Alpine Hills, we've completely finished off systematically searching some nearby blue ice fields. We've identified a moraine with greater than 75 meteorites in it that we need to finish searching. On our first visit to Jacobs Nunatak, we went to scope out the area and returned with 7 meteorites. Just today, after getting some mail from a visiting twin otter plane, we collected 26 meteorites at a local moraine. Other blue ice fields and moraines remain to be visited. The over 160 meteorites we have recovered from the Mac Alpine Hills area so far have also been different types. We'll have to wait until after the field season before the meteorites are properly identified and classified. However, different types of meteorites in such a small area suggest some sort of concentration mechanism for the meteorites is at work and that the meteorites are not all samples of the same fall.

Below is an image that shows generally what locations we have searched and points out some areas we'll be heading to in the near future. The numbers of meteorites found in different areas are noted on the image. You'll notice some ice fields have many meteorites while others have few to none. We're still working to try and fully understand why very similar looking locations have very different meteorite concentrations. It's a bit of science in progress.

My job could be very difficult. I could have to order people around, nag them to get jobs done, and just be generally unpleasant I suppose. But the reality is, we have a great team with very motivated and hard working individuals, all of whom are excited about hunting for meteorites. That makes my job so much easier. And of course, it means we all have a lot more fun too!

So, a common question I get is why I keep coming back for ANSMET seasons. There are a number of reasons. For me, I find it very rewarding to be part of such a scientifically important program like ANSMET, a program which recovers thousands of meteorites and makes them available to scientists around the world. I also enjoy the outdoors and feel lucky to be able to do work in Antarctica. Antarctica is a stunningly beautiful place that can take your breath away just as much on day 42 as it did on day 1. Along with the science and the scenery, the people really do make the ANSMET experience for me. Sharing such a unique time together makes for special friends.

On a personal note, I just want to say hi and happy holidays to my mom and dad and sister. Thanks for the Christmas gifts! Linda and I already finished off a package of the gummy bears and did the puzzle. Though we all had a really nice Christmas here in the field, I thought about our little family Christmas back in CA and missed you!!

Nancy Chabot collecting one of many meteorites (photo by Jamie Pierce).

A mosaic of aerial photos shows the general Mac Alpine Hills area. Our camp location is labeled in the image. The numbers refer to the numbers of meteorites found on different blue ice fields or in moraines. Red numbers indicate areas that have been completely systematically searched. Blue numbers indicate areas where we have found meteorites but have yet to finish searching the area. Some blue ice, such as that in the lower portion of the image, we still have to visit. The image is oriented with north at the top of the image, and the image is about 10 km wide.

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