9 December, 2001
There are five people assisting with the research that will be conducted at Reedy Glacier. Dr. Paul Fitzgerald and Dr. Suzanne Baldwin are the geologists from Syracuse university. Simon Kline is their graduate student working on his masters degree. Dr. Jarg Pettinga is a Kiwi geologist from Canterbury University in Christchurch. Finally, there is Graeme Dingle, a famous Kiwi mountaineer who will ensure our safety when climbing on the glacier.
Antarctica is divided in half by the Trans-Antarctic Mountains. These mountains are believed to have formed about 60 million years ago during the Cenozoic Era. When these mountains formed, a huge rift system formed as well. This rift extends from the Trans-Antarctic Mountains into West Antarctica along the northwestern flank of the Ellsworth-Whitemore Mountains. If this rift formed at the same time, it should be quite uniform through both mountain chains. However, the rift is not uniform and this is causing some confusion about the timing of the formation of the Trans-Antarctic Mountains. Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Baldwin intend to conduct research in this area to solved this puzzle. According to Dr. Fitzgerald, "Much of the West Antarctic rift system is buried under floating ice shelves or the West Antarctic ice sheet and its history is poorly known. By determining the uplift and (erosion) history, and the tectonic evolution of the rift flank, we will be able to con! stain further the history of the rift zone itself."
The Twin Otter aircraft will transport us to remote sites on the glacier during the next few days. Today we were transported to a site about 50 miles from the remote camp. After landing, we unloaded our gear and survival bags. The survival bags, containing tents and food, are in case the weather gets to severe for the plane to leave...stranding us for the night.
Carefully watching for danger crevices, we scaled a few exposed mountain peeks extending above the frozen grip of the glacier. These mountain tops are given the name Nanataks, which translates into islands surrounded by frozen water. It is from the Nanataks that we gathered our rock samples for the day. Since it is our first time out, we spent some time scouting other Nanataks to explore and gather geologic samples from. Tomorrow we will be more aggressive with our sampling.
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