17 February, 1998
Hi from the Palmer! Everyone was really glad to wake up today and find that the weather had returned to normal (15 mph winds, calm seas). In addition, we were very close to Tucker Glacier and the fog had lifted . . . so we could see the mountains, the snow, and the ice! It was really beautiful! We started out the morning with a Kasten core. The first one came up empty, but we tried again and got a great core! There are lots of cool layers in it -- many layers of diatoms from when it was not covered with ice, mud from when it was covered with ice, and even some possible ash layers from volcanic eruptions! Like all other Kasten cores, we took samples, wrote down lots of information, and took pictures of the sediments. This afternoon, we tried to deep tow . . . but the "fish" quit working so we had to pull it out of the water and let the ETs and MTs work on it. Hopefully, it will be fixed by tomorrow when we will try again. By the time we wake up, we should be in transit to Drygalski Ice Tongue. Tomorrow, we plan to work around Drygalski taking more cores and running the deep tow. After that, we head south towards McMurdo Station.
The Drygalski Ice Tongue is the seaward extension of the David Glacier in the Western Ross Sea. It ranges from 14-24 kilometers wide and is almost 50 km long. It was discovered by Robert Scott in 1902, and it was named after the German explorer Erich von Drygalski. Our question from yesterday was "Who was Drygalski?" Drygalski was born in 1865 and was the leader of several different polar expeditions. In 1901, he sailed aboard a ship called the Gauss to Antarctica. On February 21, 1902, they sighted land . . . but they also became stuck in a west-drifting pack of ice. During that winter, some of the men took sledges to the Antarctic coast. Drygalski himself went 480 meters above the ship in a large, tethered hydrogen balloon to see the conditions of the ice. As spring arrived, the men were hopeful and began to saw, drill, and even dynamite the 5-6 meter thick ice -- but they weren't able to free the ship. They became desperate, and even thought of tossing message-filled bottles into the sea. In the end, however, they were able to use some simple science to free the ship. During a walk on the ice, Drygalski noticed that the cinders from the ship's smokestack had caused the ice on which they had landed to melt (the dark color of the ashes absorbed the heat from the sun). He then ordered the men to spread a trail of coal ashes, garbage, and rotting food across the 600 meters of ice. On February 8, 1902, (after about two months of waiting), the bottom of the canal cracked open and they were free! By March 31, 1903, they were headed back towards home.
Before we finish our expedition to Antarctica, I wanted to take a few journals to let you know a little more about the scientists on our cruise. Today, we will begin with two people who work with me on the day shift. Ian Howat is the youngest member of the science party. He is 20 years old, and a Junior at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He is from Connecticut, and is majoring in Geology. Ian has liked the earth sciences since he took his first Earth Science class in the 8th grade. He loves being outdoors, and enjoys hobbies such as rock climbing, hiking, camping, and backpacking. While here in Antarctica, Ian is doing an undergraduate research project for his B.A. thesis at Hamilton. He is working with his professor,Gene Domack, on analyzing the character and rate of deglaciation during the last glacial maximum in the JOIDES Basin area of the Ross Sea. He will spend a great deal of time this summer working with the cores and the data that he obtained during this cruise. Ian has other plans, however, between now and June. He will be attending the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. He won't even be returning to the United States until his semester is over at the end of June.
Another one of the scientists is Michelle Fassell. Michelle is 25 years old, and she grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. After moving to North Carolina during high school, Michelle attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated in 1995 with a major in Geology and a minor in French. She is now attending Rice University in Houston, Texas. She hopes to graduate in the spring of 1999. She will examine sedimentary processes along the central Texas shelf for her M.A. thesis. She already has three job offers to work for oil companies using seismic, well logs, and maybe cores for oil exploration. Michelle had never taken an Earth Science class before college. After reading over the lists of possible majors, she picked Geology because she enjoyed being outdoors and she thought the field trips looked interesting (and she didn't want to write down "undecided" on the application). After taking a few courses, she knew she was in the right area. In her "spare time," Michelle enjoys karate (she has a yellow belt), playing the flute, drawing, and hiking. Her favorite food is escargot in garlic and butter sauce. Michelle has currently finished her classes at Rice University and is spending her last few semesters working on her thesis. She came down to Antarctica for the experience of working in a new environment, helping out with the science, and learning more about how everything fits together.
Tomorrow, we'll look at some of the other scientists on the Nathaniel B. Palmer. I can't believe how quickly the time is flying by. I am having such a wonderful time down here in Antarctica! There is only one more day that you can send questions or correspondance to this email address. After 11:00 p.m. on the 18th (your time), please send any mail to me at <email@example.com>.
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