10 July, 2000
July 10, 2000
I awoke at 4:00 AM to a driving rain pattering loudly against the roof of my tent. It was a cold rain - the type that sinks to your bones. As I looked out my tent and saw the clouds wrapping around the lower margins of the surrounding peaks, I concluded that there was no way that a helicopter would come out in this weather to move us to our new drill site and camp. As it turns out, PSU grad student Don Lindsay, St. Olaf undergraduate Andrew Malm, and PI Andrew Fountain had reached similar conclusions. At 7:00 AM Andrew Fountain decided to make a call to the helicopter company - Era, which is based in Valdez. We had all made the wrong conclusion. The helicopter was on its way. We had to hurry a bit. But we were ready when it arrived.
Our new camp and drill site is situated about 0.5 km from the drainage outlet of the Hidden Creek Lake Basin. It is on the main stem of the Kennicott Glacier. Our camp is on a thick pile of rocks - mostly large boulders. This type of feature on a glacier is called a moraine. Because it makes a longitudinal stripe down the glacier, it is called a medial moraine. These rocks came from some valley wall located far up the glacier. We have about a 200-meter walk to the drill site, which is located on some white ice near a turquoise green pool. Drilling should progress much more rapidly at this location - the ice here does not appear to include as many rocks as our former site.
U.S. Geological Survey scientist Dennis Trabant continues to survey his reflectors on the ice dam every four hours. He has quite an eagle-eye view of the rest of us. He looks down on us, and the lake team. He also has the best vantage point to communicate with the stream team in McCarthy. So, in terms of communication, he really is the point man. He was the communication relay between PI Joe Walder at the lake, PI Andrew Fountain on the ice, and the helicopter pilot during today's move.
The lake team is finished with their fieldwork. PI Joe Walder flew out today. PSU grad student Michelle Cunico joined the glacier camp. There are a number of instruments in the lake gathering data that is being stored on data loggers. These will be retrieved after break out. Joe Walder has been pretty frustrated that past few days. It appears that some of his instruments have failed in the lake. One big success of the lake team is that they were able to use a fish finder to characterize the bottom of the lake all the way to the margin of the ice dam.
By the time we left our former drill site today a number of fresh crevasses had begun to open - up to 6 inches in one case. We got some data from Dennis Trabant this evening, which explains why. From his survey data he has calculated that our former camp raised 10 cm (about 4 inches) from July 4 to July 5. From the 5th to the 6th it raised 16 cm (7 inches). From the 6th to the 7th the surface of our former camp elevated 26 cm (11 inches). From the 7th to the 8th - 53 cm. And from the 8th to the 9th, the former camp and drill site raised 56 cm. In all, since we arrived at our first camp, it has been raised by about 6 to 7 feet. In case you are wondering, this is the result of lake water moving beneath and into the ice dam (where we were camped), and floating it. This movement explains the ice deformation we were observing and hearing around our work site.
It is much quieter here.
The lake continues to rise - we just watch and shake our heads in puzzlement, wondering how the glacier can hold back the amount of hydraulic pressure that so much water represents.
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