27 October, 1997

27 October 97


CONDITION II for McMurdo and Scott Base.

CONDITION I for Ice Runway, Road to Ice Runway, Willy Field and road to Willy Field, T-Site, Arrival Heights, Snow Road and Scott Base Road.

REGIONAL WEATHER SUMMARY...A low moving west along the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf will spread cloud and snow into the McMurdo area this afternoon.

TODAY...Cloudy. Light snow and blowing snow developing this afternoon. Visibility: 3-6 miles, lowering 1/4-2 miles in snow and blowing snow late in the day.

Wind (knots): Southeast 20 to 25 gusts to 35 this afternoon.

High -09C/+16F Lowest Wind-chill -33C/-27F

TONIGHT...Snow and blowing snow.

Visibility: 3-5 miles, lowering 1/4-2 miles.

Wind (knots): Southeast 20 gust to 30.

Low -12C/+10F. Lowest Wind-chill -34C/-28F

TUESDAY...Cloudy. Periods of snow or blowing snow.

Visibility: 4-6 miles, lowering 1/4-2 miles.

Wind (knots): South-southeast 15-20.

High -08C/+18F Lowest Wind-chill -33C/-27F


High -10C. Low -13C.


Next sunrise in February, 1998

YESTERDAY'S EXTREMES - 26 October, 1997

Maximum Temperature: -10C/+14F

Minimum Temperature: -18C/ZERO F

Peak Wind: 30 Knots

Lowest wind chill: -45C/-48F

wind chill: -45C/-48F

When I walked into the lab this morning Dr. Marsh informed me that we were going to Turk's Head in order to scout the area for a possible dive site. We quickly got our gear together and headed out on the ice. Turk's Head is located in the general area of Cape Evans and the Razorback Islands. It is situated between the Mt. Erebus floating glacier tongue and Cape Evans itself.

The visibility was poor and it was hard to see much out the Spryte window but upon arrival I was overcome with the rugged beauty of this place. Huge black cliffs of basalt rise vertically out of the ice and provided a backdrop for about 40 Weddell seals which were lying on the ice at the base of these cliffs with their newborn pups. I later learned that this is the site of a lava delta which formed after one of Mt. Erebus's eruptions. As the lava flowed to the sea it quickly cooled. The brittle fragments of broken lava were formed into a type of rock that can best be described as sedimentary. One of the many geologists here described it as hyaloclastite. This explained the strange patterns I observed in the lava cliff walls.

The wind was very strong and made walking difficult. At times I could stand at a nearly 45 degree angle and not fall over. The ice was littered with the afterbirth of many seals and, sadly, at least one dead adult. Several others, both adult and newborn, were close to death and were actively being buried by snow. It was sad to just stand by and let nature take its course as these magnificent animals died. It made me think again about the constant uphill battle that living things have just to survive here. Nature is merciless and doesn't discriminate.

Shortly before our arrival the weather conditions worsened and a Condition II situation was declared for the ice. Later in the day it was upgraded to Condition I. On the return it was impossible to see. We had to navigate with the global positioning satellite (GPS) until we got to the flag road which would take us back to McMurdo Station. When we reached the flag road Dr. Marsh asked me to drive the Spryte back. Visibility was better and I happily obliged.

After dinner Dr. Marsh and I worked together on a dry run for the citrate synthese assay. We needed to adjust the procedure so that it would work with the tube feet samples. There are still some things to work out before I'll perform this assay routinely. Tomorrow I'll see if I can do that.

Things to ponder:

1 Do a little research to find out more about hyaloclastite rocks and how they form.

2. If you were very rich and wanted to help the Antarctic Weddell Seals you might be tempted to "rescue" every seal that had trouble surviving in these harsh Antarctic conditions. In the long run this would not be such a good thing for the seals themselves. Brainstorm and think of reasons why this is so.

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