9 November, 2001
After breakfast this morning, we went to the dive hut to observe Phil Forte's first surface air supply dive. Phil Forte is an Alvin pilot with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He takes scientists down in the ocean by means of a three-person submersible. The Alvin is the submersible that first dove on the Titanic. Rob Robbins, the science dive coordinator from McMurdo, and Dr. Pollock were monitoring the process for this special certification. A surface air supply dive requires more skill than scuba diving. It requires the diver to wear a Kirby Morgan band mask, a full-faced mask, which is hooked to the air supply at the surface. The mask allows the diver to talk while under water. The courage begins with trust for the person on the surface who controls the air piped into the mask. I was impressed with the ease and composure Phil Forte had when he cut off the surface supply of air and switched to his emergency backup tank. He is testing all of the valves needed to regulate his air supply. (If too much air comes in at once, a valve can be adjusted to regulate the amount coming into the mask.) When Phil Forte surfaced, then Dr. Pollock and Dr. Bowser suited up to dive. Tim Brox, the Eagle Scout experiencing Antarctica, helped as tender. He clipped blinking flashlights at different intervals, as well as an extra air supply along the guide rope. A basket on the end of the rope held their collecting bottles for sediment cores. Everyone was ready for something warm to eat after leaving the dive hut.
One frequently asked question from students has been in regard to what I am eating in the field. For lunch, we had New England Clam Chowder from a can. We also had "canned" bread. It was interesting. For dinner, Dr. Pollock, made Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo with Canadian bacon, frozen vegetables, and brownies. It was really good. We all take turns cooking.
In the middle of the afternoon, a helicopter brought in a large melter to make a hole through the sea ice. This opening will be used to take hydrology (water) measurements, such as water temperature, pH, and alkalinity, of the seawater. The water chemistry, especially during seasonal changes, can affect the forams and other organisms living within the water site.
I drove a Ski-Doo out to meet Dr. Bowser, Rob, and Tim at the drill site. Dr. Korsun started the Ski-Doo for me, gave me instructions on how to carefully drive it through the rough ice in the transition zone (where the land meets the sea), and pointed me in the right direction. He then radioed ahead to let them know that I was on my way. I arrived at the hole-melting site to see a small hole being drilled through the ice. A motor placed on top forced the drill down through the ice. Drill attachments had to be added to get through 12 feet of sea ice. Dr. Bowser jokingly measured the attachments in "Bowser lengths"- the length of the drill was two Dr. Bowsers. Tim rode on the sled as Dr. Bowser drove the ATV back to camp to retrieve the generator. "Frustrations of Antarctica" arose again as we realized that the plug to the drill would not fit into the generator. Another generator would need to be flown out by helicopter before the hole could be melted.
It is not uncommon for bedtime to run between 1 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. The light outside is deceiving. It is always a surprise to look at my watch to see that time has flown by, as I force myself to bed with unfinished work still to do.
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