ANDRILL: Antarctic geological DRILLing
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Coulman High Project
Field Updates
Jan. 31, 2011
The T-5 fuel tanker MV Richard G. Matthiesen pulled up to the ice pier last night and began to offload its load of fuel to McMurdo shore tanks. The MV Richard G. Matthiesen is a U.S. merchant ship (a T-5 tanker with a double hull that is ice strengthened) that is part of the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command. This ship is scheduled to be decommissioned later this year, but has made this trip to Antarctica before that happens. The Oden has made a channel through the sea ice that helps the tanker get to the pier. >> Continue reading.
Jan. 28, 2011
The refueling vessel is sitting offshore, but there is a problem with the ice pier. A ridge of ice is protruding like a ledge out from the front edge of the pier and the vessels can’t get close enough to dock without potential damage to either the ship or the pier. It’s a conundrum that needs a fast resolution. >> Continue reading.
Jan. 27, 2011
The fieldwork for this season is nearly completed and the team members are on their way back to McMurdo Station and Scott Base by tractor traverse across the Ross Ice Shelf towing all of the ANDRILL equipment with them. This is the same process we went through at the beginning of the season, only in reverse. >> Continue Reading.
Jan. 20, 2011
Today I presented the new NOVA special “Secrets Beneath the Ice” to the community attending the premier in the McMurdo Galley. There were about 150 to 200 people in all, and from what I could tell they enjoyed the special. >> Continue reading.
Jan. 17, 2011
I woke to find Oden unloading cargo at the ice pier just in front of my dorm. >> Continue reading.
Jan. 16, 2011
I’ve spent the past 10 days working with Bob Zook, discussing the outcomes of the SCINI dives under the ice shelf and helping him to pack up his equipment to ship off continent. The head of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat was visiting McMurdo during the week for discussions with NSF Program Managers and we’ve had some good conversations while he’s been waiting for the arrival of the Swedish Icebreaker Oden. >> Continue reading.
Jan. 11, 2011
After a good deal of planning and many emails back and forth, we are participating in a test of the Air National Guard’s (ANG) new Crevasse Detection Radar (CDR) in support of NSF’s science mission in Antarctica. >> Continue reading.
Jan. 7, 2011
I received some feedback from people who started thinking about the implications of us having to make our own drinking water. >> Continue reading.
Jan. 6, 2011
The seismic refraction experiment is ready to be shot. The explosives are down in the 55 shot holes and the 100 geophones are buried in the snow on the opposite side of the proposed drill site location from the shot holes. The MECC and hot water drill are in place and the hydrophone is on the seafloor hanging from a cable deployed through a hole melted in the ice shelf. >> Continue reading.
Jan. 5, 2011
Dustin and Paul from the SCINI team flew back to Christchurch this morning, but Bob Zook stayed behind to pack all of the SCINI equipment for shipment back to the United States. This packing and sorting exercise is an essential step in concluding each deployment to Antarctica and we are looking at a lot of work to get the whole ANDRILL camp packed up and all of the containers winterized and ready for storage at the end of the season. >> Continue reading.
Jan. 4, 2011
The flight from McMurdo out to the ANDRILL Coulman High camp yesterday brought Doug Wilson, Ethan Marcoux, Dar Gibson, and Graham Roberts. The SCINI team – Bob Zook, Paul Mahacek and Dustin Carroll – who had finished their work for the Coulman High Project were transported back to McMurdo with their cargo by the Bell 212 helicopter. They had been out at Site #3 since December 16th and had fully tested the SCINI remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in numerous dives through the ice shelf. >> Continue reading.
Jan. 3, 2011
Bob Greschke from IRIS/PASSCAL made it out to the ANDRILL camp on December 30th to start preparing for the geophysical experiment. The camp moved from Site #3 to Site #4 on New Year’s Eve, so the first thing he did was help everyone pack up the containers and relocate everything to Site #4. >> Continue reading.
Jan. 2, 2011
Overcast skies and the resulting helicopter hold due to waiting on weather was today’s story. The geophysical team members were all waiting in McMurdo for a chance to get out to the ANDRILL camp, but it became clear as the day progressed that the weather window was not going to open up – too much fog on the ice to allow helicopters to fly.
>> Continue reading.
Jan. 1, 2011
Well, it’s New Year’s Day in McMurdo – a time for out with the old, in with the new. We moved the ANDRILL Coulman High camp yesterday from Site #3 to Site #4, which is close to Site #1. We’ve had a long string of poor weather days and no helicopter flights... >> Continue reading.
Dec. 13, 2010
Well, I’m back in McMurdo but the view out on the sea ice has changed in the few days I’ve been away. The sea ice runway has been moved and all of the LC-130 airplanes are gone. This happens every year in December once the sea ice begins to melt a bit and the surface becomes uneven. >> Continue reading.
Dec. 12, 2010
The next project on our agenda for this season is shot hole drilling – making small diameter (3”) holes penetrating about 35 meters into the ice and placing explosive charges in them that will be the energy source for a seismic refraction experiment. >> Continue reading.
Dec. 11, 2010
The gravity coring is continuing today and I’m taking more pictures of what’s going on in the MECC. Later today we’ll see the shot hole drilling, but right now we’re waiting to see what length of core is recovered. >> Continue reading.
Dec 10, 2010
The plan at Site #3 is to run a series of oceanographic instruments and sampling devices down the hole through the ice shelf for short duration deployments. Craig Stewart and Mike Williams (NIWA) have just recovered an acoustic doppler current profiler (ADCP). >> Continue reading.
Dec. 9, 2010
The weather is good, so Bob, Ethan and I board the Kiwi helo for our trip to Coulman High with Rob the pilot. The flight is uneventful, but a bit windy. There is a haze over the ice surface that makes it hard to see features below. We can’t see the camp until we get pretty close, but then we land and rejoin the group. It’s good to be home. >> Continue reading.
Dec. 8, 2010
The team ran the DOCTOR (Downhole Optical Caliper Tool for Observing Roundness) down the hole melted in the ice at Site #2 to continue our observations through the ice shelf and to the seafloor below. This time Mike Williams suggested that they also deploy a CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth) sensor as part of the run, so they were both sent down together.
>> Continue reading.
Dec. 7, 2010
A big storm hit the ANDRILL camp on December 3-4, with winds gusting up to 50 knots or more. Richard Levy decided that this was a good time to break out the ANDRILL flag and take pictures for the home crowd. Visibility was poor, but Dick Limeburner captured the moment – awesome!! >> Continue reading.
Dec. 6, 2010
The weather is good, so Gary, Daniel and Chris will fly out to camp today. >> Continue reading.
Dec. 3, 2010
Walking outside of Crary Lab today, I saw the Kiwi helicopter conducting a sling load transport of fuel barrels from the heliport down the hill. This helicopter, designated HNF, is a different design from the USAP helicopters, which are A-stars or Bell-212s. The tail rotor is enclosed in a tunnel, which makes the helicopter very maneuverable and also very quiet.
>> Continue reading.
Dec.1, 2010
Many people think that when they come to McMurdo Station that they have set foot on the continent of Antarctica, but technically we know that Ross Island is a volcanic edifice located offshore, surrounded by ice and water and isolated from the coast. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 30, 2010
The helicopter trip yesterday provided an aerial view of McMurdo Station, but perhaps not in enough detail for readers to understand the scope of what goes on here. I’ve pulled together some additional images of town, from west to east, to give you a quick overview of the layout of this installation on the southern tip of the Hut Point Peninsula. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 29, 2010
The helicopter left McMurdo Station at 08:45 and arrived here at the ANDRILL Coulman High camp at 09:30 carrying Mike Williams (N.Z.), Wallis Wood (N.Z.), and Robin Bolsey (U.S), who will be joining the team. I had my bags packed, and once the small amount of cargo coming off the helicopter was unloaded, I climbed into the aircraft and got strapped in for the ride back to McMurdo. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 28, 2010
Craig Stewart and I traveled back to Mooring Site #1 today to download the data being recorded by the instruments and also transmitted up the cable. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 27, 2010
After the move yesterday, we are catching up on servicing all of the vehicles, getting the camp organized again, and preparing for melting the next hole through the ice. The vehicle pool that we have out in the field is an important part of accomplishing our mission. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 26, 2010
Today is the day we break camp and move from Site #1 to Site #2. While Graham and I were out surveying yesterday, the rest of the team was preparing for the move by packing up any loose items and bringing things down to floor level so that they won’t fall down while being towed to the next camp location. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 25, 2010
The oceanographers from NIWA (National Institute for Water and Atmosphere, in NZ) and WHOI (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in the U.S.) got together and spent all day deploying the first of the inductive oceanographic moorings (Site #1) through the ice shelf into the water below. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 24, 2010
One of the critical issues of being out on the ice shelf, away from the main logistical centers of McMurdo Station and Scott Base, is the need to be able to communicate from the camp about daily needs and to keep in contact.
>> Continue reading.
Nov. 23, 2010
The oceanographers from NIWA and WHOI arrived late in the afternoon yesterday and got right to work sorting out their instruments and getting ready to deploy them through the ice shelf. One of the first things to do was to set up the WHOI tripod and winch system that would be used to lower and support the line for the grounding wire for the oceanographic mooring. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 22, 2010
Claude Laird, the ground penetrating radar specialist from CReSIS and a member of our original team this year is leaving the camp and flying off the ice in a few days. We decide to have a group photo and set up the camera on a tripod outside the main camp containers. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 21, 2010
We’re lowering a video camera into the hole today to explore the ice shelf, and also to see what we can learn about the seafloor below. The video camera is enclosed in a pressure vessel attached to a frame with another pressure vessel providing lighting to allow the camera to see. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 20, 2010
Gravity coring continued today, but with less success than previously. We are puzzling out what we can do differently after getting two runs with no sediment recovery. There is mud on the end of the plastic core barrel, but nothing inside, so we’re trying to figure out what to do differently. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 19, 2010
The hot water drill hole has been melted through the full depth of the Ross Ice Shelf, which is approximately 250 meters thick from top to bottom in this area. We are now ready to start investigating the properties of the ice, the water, and the seafloor below. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 18, 2010
One of the tasks for the ANDRILL Science Management Office (SMO) in the pre-season was to provide a capability for shot hole drilling for the Coulman High seismic experiment. We contacted the Ice Coring and Drilling Services (ICDS) office at the University of Wisconsin and arranged to borrow a mobile shot hole drill in “as is” condition and brought it to Lincoln, NE to get it ready for field use. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 17, 2010
Today Claude and I drove the Pisten Bully north to flag the shot hole and geophone locations for the seismic refraction experiment later in the season. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 16, 2010
The weather has cleared again, so the helicopter flight to bring the UNAVCO folks back to McMurdo is on the schedule. Joe and Lisa are gathering their belongings and getting ready to leave camp. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 15, 2010
Today the visibility was poor and therefore no helicopters could fly to camp. Joe and Lisa from UNAVCO resigned themselves to stay another day and enjoy our hospitality. The primary activity for today is to continue melting a hole through the ice shelf using the ANDRILL hot water drill system in preparation for conducting some tests and deploying the first mooring.
>> Continue reading.
Nov. 14, 2010
Today the UNAVCO team installed the winter GPS at Site #2 using the Kiwi Hagglund. The installation was hard work for everyone because of the strong wind early in the day, but the sun was shining on the return to camp. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 13, 2010
Saturday brought an A-star helicopter transporting Joe Petit and Lisa Siegel of UNAVCO who were traveling from McMurdo Station to Coulman High. They came to install Global Positioning System (GPS) stations to measure the vertical and lateral motions of the ice shelf at four sites spaced about 10 kilometers apart in a diamond-shaped pattern. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 12, 2010
The helicopter schedule was posted at about 20:30 last night and we learned we would be flying on Helicopter 08H, a Bell 212 with lots of space for cargo and passengers (or PAX, as they are known here in Antarctica) ....We weren’t the only group traveling today, and as chance had it, we knew one of the other travelers, Jean Pennycook, who works with the ANDRILL Science Management Office creating curriculum resources for a NOAA project on environmental literacy.
>> Continue reading.
Nov. 11, 2010
We brought our science cargo to the helicopter pad after lunch to prepare for our flight to the ANDRILL camp at Coulman High on Friday. We tagged and weighed each item and then put them in a wooden cart for transport to the helicopter by an all-wheel vehicle just prior to the flight tomorrow. Our cart was painted black and named “Ninja”. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 5, 2010
The winds died down overnight and the morning was clear and crisp again. The camp was in good shape, although with a bit more drifted snow than the day before. The PB was still fairly frozen, but since we weren’t going to drive that back to McMurdo we just left it where we parked it during the whiteout the day before. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 4, 2010
After spending another night in the berthing modules, which sleep six people in each of the two modules, we awoke at Coulman High and prepared for a day of surveying the routes between the four primary sites where we will be installing four UNAVCO GPS stations – one at each of the four corners of a diamond encompassing the two primary mooring sites to the north and south, the short-term mooring site to the west, and the GPS only site located to the east. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 3, 2010
The next morning we woke to clear blue skies and the outlook for driving the remaining 60 miles to Coulman High appeared bright. We had parked the Pisten Bully (PB) close to the side of a row of containers, in a gap that allowed us to plug in the heater for the engine into the mobile generator. >> Continue reading.
Nov. 2, 2010
After three weeks of training and preparing for the first ANDRILL traverse to Coulman High, we departed from McMurdo Station at 8:15 AM on Tuesday morning (November 2nd) in Pisten Bully (PB) 310, which was equipped with a 15 foot-long boom that could be lifted up off the ice with a cable and winch mounted on the front of the PB for turning in close spaces.
>> Continue reading.