25 February, 1999

February 25, 1999

Hello from the Amundsen Sea! Today, we finished our multibeam survey in Suzlberger Bay and then ran a seismic line for a few hours. We were looking for a place to core, and we found a potential site. Since we weren't sure how much soft mud was on the bottom, we took a grab sample to test it out. Guess what we found? Gravel and rocks! So, that means we could not take a piston core in the area. Afterwards, we took off for our next location. We are currently in transit to the Getz Ice Shelf. It will take us about 48 hours to get there. We will continue multibeaming along the way, and of course we will continue taking the log every 15 minutes. Other than that, I bet things will be pretty quiet around here tomorrow.

As a result of our long transit, Dr. Anderson and Captain Joe decided that this would be a good time to try and get our time zones straightened out. Did you remember that I was on the same time as New Zealand . . . 18 hours ahead of Indiana? Well, several days ago we passed the 180 degree longitude line. That line is called the International Date Line, and the day changes as you go from one side of the line to the other. Well, it was a bad time in our data collection to switch the day, so we waited until today to do it. So, we actually had two Wednesdays here on the ship -- yesterday and today. Yesterday, we were 18 hours ahead of the time at home, and now we are 6 hours behind. Due to the fact that it would make the journal calendars very weird, I'll keep writing the journals like this never happened. As we continue around the continent, the time zones will also change. Time zones change every 15 degrees of longitude, just like they do as you drive from the west coast to the east coast of the United States. Tonight, we are going to move our clocks ahead one hour. When we wake up tomorrow morning, we will be only 5 hours behind the time in Indiana! When we finally reach Palmer Station, we will be on Palmer Station time (which is only an hour or two different from the time at home).

Well, we were going to talk about emergency drills today. Yesterday's question was "Where do you suppose we have to go for an emergency drill? What should we take with us?" On the Palmer, we have emergency drills every week to make sure we would know what to do in case we had to evacuate the ship. Our second emergency drill was yesterday afternoon. When the alarm sounds, we have to go to our rooms and get our life jackets and our immersion suits (which we call "gumby suits"). Our gumby suits are big, plastic, orange suits that are designed to protect us from the cold water. They are made of a material very similar to what scuba divers wear -- but it's thicker, much more buoyant, and it stays dry inside. They are very bulky, and they zip up to cover our entire body (except our face). Our gumby suits are actually life preservers, too, but it takes about 1-2 minutes to awkwardly get inside of them. The life preservers are with us in case we wouldn't have time to get into our gumby suits. We also grab our red parka, a hat, some mittens, and a pair of socks in case we would need to stay extra warm. Most of us have those little things packed into our gumby suit bag.

Once we get our life jackets, gumby suits, and warm clothes, we have to go up to the third deck conference room where attendance is taken. The reason that we have to go all the way up to the third deck is that the life boats can be easily boarded from there. If we were going to have to evacuate the ship, we would then put on our gumby suits and get into the life boats. The life boats are amazing! There are two life boats on the Nathaniel B. Palmer, and they are located on opposite sides of the ship. Each one contains everything needed to support 76 people. Since the ship is only allowed to have a maximum of 70 people on it at any one time, there's plenty of room (although everyone would be tightly packed). In the case of a real emergency, each life boat is equipped with water, condensed milk, and life boat rations of food (like special granola bars) for everybody. There are also first aid kits, lanterns, flares, radios, and enough diesel fuel to run the engines at 6 knots for 24 hours. Most people are surprised to see what the life boats look like -- they are totally enclosed! It makes sense that they are totally enclosed because it's so cold here in Antarctica. Another neat feature is that they could right themselves in the water if they rolled over. There are windows, and there are also some small holes that can be opened (if needed) for the oars to stick through. The life boats are tested frequently, but the Nathaniel B. Palmer has never had to evacuate its passengers for a real emergency.

Today we saw lots more ice -- both sea ice and icebergs. We also saw lots more Adelie and Emperor penguins. How many different species of penguins are there? Do all of them live in Antarctica? We'll look at that in tomorrow's journal. Keep the questions coming . . . I love hearing from you!

Kim Giesting

Latitude: 75 degrees 54 minutes South

Longitude: 151 degrees 12 minutes West

Temperature: -8 degrees C

Barometer: 982 mb

Wind Speed: 10 knots

Wind Direction: 145 degrees (from the Southeast)

Sunrise Today: 02:24

Sunset Today: 19:59

This is Hannah modeling her gumby suit.

This is the outside of the life boat. It has a little bit of snow on top.

This is the inside of the life boat.

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