23 January, 1998

Greetings from WAY down south! You wouldn't believe the wonderful views that we have had today on the Nathaniel B. Palmer! We are close to Cape Adare, which is the peninsula of land of the edge of the Ross Sea at about 170 degrees East longitude. We are close to the coast -- the the view is breathtaking! We can see the Transantarctic Mountains with their snow and glaciers! In the water, we see icebergs of all sizes. One passed by about an hour ago that was absolutely huge! Some of the smaller ones have penguins walking around! I find myself constantly looking out the window at the awesome scenery.

We have made quite a bit of progress today with the equipment. Unfortunately, the seismic streamer is still broken, but they think it's almost fixed. They thought they had it fixed earlier today, but when they put it in the water to test it out it still didn't work right. Some people have been working on it most of the day. For a short while, the Multibeam stopped and we were really worried! Thankfully, it was a computer glitch and only took about 20 minutes to get it up and running again. I'm not sure about the status of the deep tow, but Christie (one of the ASA marine technicians) says it is fixed. I know that people have been working on it all day, but I don't think it has been tested in the water yet. Today we ran a lot of Multibeam and Bathy-2000 lines. This evening, I did two sets of ping editing -- and the results turned out really nice (especially for one of them). Until now, we haven't seen a lot of contour changes in our data (glacial changes tend to be small). With the data that I edited tonight, the land slopes quite a bit and you can even see two seamounts on the contour map! What is a seamount? I'm trying to get a picture of my contour map to send back so that you can see what I am talking about. Results like this sure make ping editing a lot more interesting!

Many of you have been asking about the food here on the ship . . . and I want you to know that it is great! Our chef is named Ernest and he's from Beaumont, Texas. He has a crew of people that help him in the galley, and they keep us very well fed! Tonight we had pizza for dinner! Last night was hamburgers and french fries. The night before was tacos. We have also had lasagna, lamb chops, and meatloaf. In addition, you can always choose from rice and beans, salad, fruit, and/or vegetables for your side dishes. For lunch, we also have a nice variety of foods that include some sort of soup, a main course, vegetables, fruits, and salad. You can choose as much or as little as you want to eat at every meal. I'm sure that the fresh fruit and salads won't last for too many more days -- we can't buy any more lettuce and we can't keep it fresh throughout the entire time that we are on the ship. One thing that I think is interesting is that when we have fish it is frozen fish out of the freezer. Why do you suppose that we don't fish in the Ross Sea for our dinner?

For breakfast, we have the normal selection of breakfast foods. Usually, there are eggs and meat as well as something like pancakes or french toast. There is also cereal to choose from, and yesterday morning we had homemade donuts that were still warm! They were great! There are always apple and orange juice boxes in the refrigerator, as well as coffee, hot tea, milk, and soda available. I'm amazed at the selection! We can also choose punch, iced tea, or lemonade to drink if we want.

One last great thing about the food is the snacks. They are always available and always wonderful! So far (in just 6 days), we have had two different kinds of homemade cookies, a cake, fudge, brownies, and two kinds of creme puffs. Sweets like this just sit out on the counter so that you can drop in and pick something up if you are hungry. We don't have any vending machines on ship, (and stores are really far away), so they have to keep plenty of food available. Hopefully we are working hard enough that we won't gain weight!

Well, before I head off to bed I want to answer yesterday's question . . . "What do you suppose the gray mud means?" It means that no diatoms were present (because they would turn the sediments green). No diatoms means no sunlight. No sunlight means that the area was covered by ice at that point in history. Stephanie and Dr. Anderson can take a core of sediments, have the layers dated (we know the oldest layers are on the bottom, but they want more exact dates), and determine at what point in history that parcticular area was covered with ice. For their project, they hope it was during the last ice age about 20,000 years ago.

It's great hearing from so many of you! Keep your questions (and journal suggestions, and photo suggestions) coming my way! I love hearing from all of you!

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