6 November, 1998
Lots of wind again this morning, but my tent is holding up very well. I woke up at about 8:00 am. The sun peeks around the mountains earlier and earlier every morning. Someone said that the sun changes position very rapidly here...meaning that, at any parcticular time, the sun's position is 20 minutes ahead of where it was yesterday. It's light out all of the time, but since we're down in a valley, the sun goes behind the mountains during the evening.
We ate breakfast in shifts...as people woke up and straggled into the Jamesway. Since John was working on a problem with the data logger and wouldn't be able to help me drill my 10-inch diameter hole in the ice (actually 4.5 meters down), Chris explained how he wanted the land sediment sampling to be done (so I could get started on that). Basically, he wanted me to pick an area that was about 400 meters from camp, about 200 meters past the weather station. I would be doing a soil transect, measuring off 50 meters up the hill, perpendicular to the lake. At the 25 meter point, I was to measure off another 25 meters to the left or right, sort of forming a "T" shape on the hill. I would be taking samples of soil at every 5 meters along those two lines, the samples consisting of only the top 2 cm of soil (because that soil is the most transportable of all of the soils...the most wind-exposed). I would bag the samples up and use them later in experiments at McMurdo. Chris also wanted to try a little micro-sampling...in between 10 and 20 meters and 30 and 40 meters, I took a few more samples so that we could compare differences in C/N/H (Carbon, Nitrogen, and Hydrogen) within samples that were closer together.
It took me about 45 minutes to label my bags and gather the measuring tape, the bamboo flags, the water, and snacks that I would need...the latter being the most important! : ) Once out on the hill, it took me about 2 hours to gather the samples. I took pictures of the sampling area and closeup pictures of each 5 meter spot to document what I did. After returning to the Jamesway and getting a little lunch, I realized John was still working on the data logger problem. He mentioned that the LTER team might be willing to help me drill my ice hole, so I walked out onto the ice to where they were. They were in a small red hut on the ice, drilling a sample hole in the ice. They drill their holes in these small huts so that their holes don't freeze back up quickly.
To make a long story short, they agreed to help me drill my sediment trap hole in the ice. It took about 1-1/2 hours of drilling to get through the ice! We each held on to either end of a power head attached to a long, 10-inch diameter drill bit about 1 meter long. As soon as that drill bit went through the ice, we had to pull the power head up and attach another drill bit extension...and so on, until we got through the ice (about 4.5 meters). I couldn't believe how much jarring I got drilling. I was on the throttle, so I had to make sure that I kept it going...there was danger of stalling, and if the power head quits while drilling, the drill could freeze into the ice (uuuggghhh!...and then we'd have to drill another hole next to the original hole and melt it out). Not fun, I've heard! Anyway, I survived until the last minute when we got to the water. The drill became very heavy, and we needed help...so Laura and Chris helped us clear the water out (by repeatedly pushing and pulling the drill out of the hole). Whew!...and these guys said there were times that they did 7-8 of these in a day! Needless to say, I was very tired, and I'm sure the LTER team was regretting the decision to help me out...
I poured my NaCl/Formalin solution in the bottom of the sample bottle of the sediment trap and, with Craig's help, lowered the trap into the hole. There was a bit of slush collection in the first meter of water, and even with a 15 lb. weight at the bottom of the trap, it refused to go down. We cleared some of the slush out with a single drill bit, and then the trap went down quite rapidly. The "X"-shaped bamboo poles at the top prevented the whole trap from disappearing down the hole. Now I have to check the trap in 5-6 days. I hope it doesn't completely freeze back up.
We had dinner (John and Kathy had fixed halibut steaks, rice, cajun shrimp, and green beans...yum!), and I helped with dishes cleanup. Tomorrow morning Chris, John, and Nina are going to Lake Fryxell to gather more ice core samples (I'm doing another soil transect on Lake Bonney), and tomorrow afternoon Chris and I fly out to McMurdo to take the samples we've gathered back into the freezers at McMurdo. We don't want to lose what we have already collected.
Bedtime came earlier tonight (10:30 pm) because of the early helicopter pickup for part of our team tomorrow. I know I'll sleep well tonight! Just give me my hot water bottle for the bottom of my sleeping bag, and I'm set. : ) If my husband were here, I'd be even happier!
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