8 October, 1996
I've decided that my last event of the day would be my journal entry. That will probably account for some of the gibberish. It's 11:04 P.M. The sun has gone below the mountains but it still quite light out. It doesn't really get dark here during this season.
A good portion of the day was spent on the sea ice learning to locate cracks and crevasses and how to cross them safely. One sure indication that the ice is cracked is the presence of seals. If seals are on the ice, they had to squeeze through a body sized opening to get there. Since their bodies are four to five hundred pounds, there is the potential to fall in where they crawled out. As we moved along the ice we could hear a seal barking. Bill followed a crack in the ice until he found a hole where a seal had come to the surface. As we moved closer to the hole, the seal would disappear below the surface, when we backed off it would reappear to bark at us. Even thought the temperature was well below zero, the ice still had weak spots where an unsuspecting walker could easily fall through. As we moved off the ice and up onto a small mountain, the six-foot probe I was using to test the strength of the snow went into a crevasse. We stopped and probed the crack to find a safe way to cross. By being vigilant and learning how to recognize signs of weakness in the ice and snow we were able to feel somewhat secure as we moved along.
When we reached the top of the mountain we found a monument in honor of Jeffrey Rudd, a scientist who died when he fell through an ice crack. Andy, a veteran of seven seasons here, told us that three workers recently fell into a crevasse near the research station. Only one survived and the body of another has yet to be recovered. Safety is now a top priority on the ice, there is a training session or safety briefing for almost every aspect of our work. It does cut down on the amount of work we can accomplish but it makes me aware of the difficulties and the need for advanced planning when doing science in this environment.
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