18 March, 1999
March 18, 1999
Hello from Marguerite Bay! We finished our transit this afternoon, and started a multibeam survey of Marguerite Bay. We'll be taking our first core in this area within an hour or so. We'll continue our studies until sometime tomorrow, and then we'll have to head north toward Palmer Station. We're expecting to reach Palmer Station on Friday.
Our seas today were much calmer than yesterday, although they still weren't as smooth as usual. We also had thick fog for a lot of the day. We are definitely very close of lots of beautiful views . . . but the weather hasn't allowed us to see the land at all. I was able to get some neat iceberg photos, however. I also had an opportunity to see several seals swimming in the water and a few more whales blowing sprays of water into the air. Kathleen thinks that the whales were Humpback whales, and we've decided that the seals were probably Antarctic fur seals. The seals were actually porpoising out of the water as they swam . . . it looked really neat!
Before we look at our question for today, I would like to introduce you to some of the MTs (Marine Technicians) that are working aboard the ship. MTs are responsible for the deck and everything on it. This includes all of the equipment that goes into the water -- such as the cores, the seismic guns and streamers, the deep tow, etc. They maintain all of this equipment, and they help the scientists with a lot of the manual labor when this equipment is being used. We have six MTs on our cruise. I'll introduce some of them today, and we'll look at the rest of them tomorrow. There are three MTs that work from noon until midnight. Mike Lewis, Jesse Doren, and John Talbert. Mike Lewis doubles as our EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) if anyone needs medical assistance.
Jesse Doren lives outside of Denver, Colorado; and he graduated from Elizabeth High School in Elizabeth, Colorado, in 1994. He has always been good at working with things that are mechanical. After high school, he worked as a CAD operator in drafting and also as a computer technician. He then worked for his father in the construction business. Jesse met someone from ASA as a casual acquaintance in the Denver area. After talking a bit, Jesse learned about working in Antarctica. Although he didn't apply for a job right away, the idea remained in the back of his head. A year or so later, Jesse did apply . . . and he started working for ASA a year ago this past October. His first assignment was working on the Laurence M. Gould -- the new Antarctic research vessel that was first launched in 1998. He helped take the equipment from the old ship, called the Polar Duke, and he set up the equipment on the Gould. Working in the Gulf of Mexico on the Gould was the first time that Jesse had ever been on a ship! Now, he has been working on the Palmer for over a year. Jesse is contracted to work for the ASA -- which means that he works for them part-time. Last year, he spent over eight months working for ASA. After a vacation this past winter, he is now back on the Palmer until May. He will spend a few weeks working at the ASA offices in Denver after he returns to the U.S., and then he will be ready for his next vacation. Jesse really enjoys working in Antarctica, and he likes meeting all of the different people that come and work aboard the ship. In the future, Jesse hopes to start college classes and graduate with a degree in engineering.
John Talbert is working his second cruise aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer. He grew up in Burnsville, Minnesota, and graduated from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, in 1994. John's major was Theatre Communications, with an emphasis in Organizational Communications. He had a minor in Outdoor Recreation, with an emphasis in Outdoor Leadership. John held several jobs to help pay his way through college . . . including being a ski instructor, a white water rafting guide, a fly fishing guide, and a snowmobile guide. After graduation, he enrolled in Officer Candidate School for the Coast Guard. His first assignment was as a Deck Watch Officer/Ship Driver aboard the Polar Sea and Polar Star, which were both heavy duty polar icebreakers. After doing that for two years, he transferred as an Executive Officer to an icebreaking tug in the Great Lakes. He decided not to renew his commission with the Coast Guard when his term expired, and turned in his commission in July of 1998. He spent nearly seven months traveling around the United States before returning to Colorado and obtaining a job with Antarctic Support Associates. He started working as an MT in December, and will be leaving the ship when we arrive in Punta Arenas. He enjoys his job, and hopes to return to Antarctica sometime later this summer. John enjoys all kinds of outdoor activities, including hiking mountains and white water rafting. He also likes to travel all over the United States and the world, and looks forward to more traveling opportunities in the future.
Let's take some time to look at our question for the day. It was, "What other types of science, besides marine geology, do you suppose people study in Antarctica?" I imagine that you thought of astronomy right away . . . we just talked about it in the March 15 journal. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is a great place to study the sky, both in the austral summer and in the winter. A brand new branch of astronomy called helioseismography was actually first developed at the South Pole. This science studies the fluctuations in the size of the sun as it pulsates. Most meteorites are also found in Antarctica, which acts like a huge meteorite collecter and preserver. Usually, meteorites are found in the older, "blue" ice of the continent, where they gradually rise to the surface and are much easier to find.
Antarctica is also an important location for the study of the atmosphere. There is a lot of interest in the meteorology of the continent (the weather and the weather patterns). Weather occurs in the lowest layer of the atmosphere, called the troposphere. Scientists are also studying the upper layers of the atmosphere from Antarctica. Most notably, Antarctica has played an important role in the study of global warming and ozone depletion. The earth's ozone layer (which is thinning at the Poles) can be found in the second layer of the atmosphere, which is called the stratosphere. The third layer, or the ionosphere, is the location where the aurora australis occur.
Of course, you probably guessed that there are lots of studies that focus on Antarctic wildlife. In addition, the ice sheets, ice shelves, and ice streams are popular research topics. The study of fossils is also important . . . especially concerning the fact that these fossils help us to understand the history of the continent. Medical research is in Antarctica is something that might not occur to many people. Most of this research is not about how well people adapt to the cold (we have great clothing and warm buildings), but rather how people react to this remote location. Scientists are also learning how people's hormones react to the winter darkness, as well as how the isolation of winter affects the personnel at the research stations. They are also studying the immune system and how it seems to be lowered as people live a long distance away from the source of common infections.
Well, our time is certainly going by very quickly. We'll be arriving in Punta Arenas, Chile, on March 25. I'm flying out of Chile on the 26th, and I'll be arriving back home in Indiana on March 27. That gives us a little more than one week before this expedition is over. I can't believe it!! If you have any questions for me, make sure and email them soon. For tomorrow, we'll look at the question "Do you think there are lakes in Antarctica?"
Latitude: 68 degrees 14 minutes South
Longitude: 70 degrees 07 minutes West
Temperature: +0.5 degrees Celsius
Wind Speed: 26.8 knots
Wind Direction: 280 degrees (from the West)
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