9 November, 1997
My second day at McMurdo began with a terrific wind storm that developed during the night. They said some of the gusts were up to 70 miles per hour. In the middle of the night when you looked out the window, you could not see any thing and the wind howled through the air. Even in the morning when you could see the buildings near the ground the mountains and the Sound were not to be seen. With all the layers of clothing that a person puts on he/she stays very warm. The person always wears long thernal type underware, a layer of fleece pants, a fleece jacket, wind pants and a very heavy coat. They wear wool socks and large insulated boots. Hats and gloves are a must in the wind even though the coat has a large hood that you retreat to out of the wind. Walking around McMurdo requires that one watch out not only for vehicles but also for ice and wind that helps move you along. Our Sunday started out with us leaving the dining hall at 8 AM and walking to the warehouse where we stenciled and prepared the equipment for transfer to Siple Dome. The materials were shipped from Hanover, N. H., last summer and had to be directed to make sure they make the flight on Wednesday to Siple Dome. While at the warehouse, we met several different scientists working on different projects all over the ice. Some of the interesting projects that I really liked was on the movement of glaciers in the valleys near Siple Dome. Some of the glacier move down from the peaks at a rate of 10 to 100 meters a year. The people that I talked to are going out to set flags on the valley glaciers and determing their position by GPS. Next year they will return and redetermine the position of the flags to see how much they have moved. From what they have said, it appears that the glaciers are moving rapidly down the slope and causing the head of the glacier to decrease in size. Do you feel that this is an indication that the ice field is getting smaller (melting)?
Later I went to an open house at the Crary Lab here in McMurto. They were discussing the Cape Robert drilling site and science behind it. At this site they are trying to drill down into the rock layers beneath the sea ice.
The ice broke up early so they did not get to finish the project this year but will try agin next year. However, from their drilling they have found that their really are layers of rock underneath very much like a seismic reading has predicted. The layers are usually homogeneous but with xrays they have determined that some of them are layered even in a small 5 cm. length. The question of how and why is still to be answered. Most of the layers contain rocks that have been dropped (called drop rock) from glaciers or ice bergs. Some layers have more drop rocks than others. Scientists are trying to find a time line for these layers and then they can determine the possible climate for the area at the time. Some of the layers have neat marine life in them. The marine life is very small like diatoms. (Look up what a diatom is if you do not know.) They have discovered several new diatoms that they have not seen before now. I wonder if this means there were and maybe are different types of animals/plants in the waters of Antarctica
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