Field work

Biologist collecting alien introduced plants
Biologist collecting alien introduced plants (Poa annua), 2000–01 (Photo: K. Kiefer)

It is essential that all clothing and equipment is meticulously cleaned before being brought to Antarctica and before moving between sampling locations, to prevent contamination, cross-contamination and the introduction and spread of foreign organisms.

Do not build cairns, and minimise the use and extent of stake networks or other objects to mark sites; such markers should be removed on completion of the related task.

When permitted to sample, adhere to the sample size specified in your permit and take samples from the least conspicuous location possible.

Always use a drop sheet when sampling soils. Backfill soil pits to prevent wind erosion and dispersal of deeper sediments.

Take great care when handling chemicals and fuels, and ensure you have appropriate materials with you to catch and absorb spills.

Minimise the use of liquid water and chemicals that could contaminate the isotopic and chemical record within lake or glacier ice.

The chemical and biological constituents of lakes can vary greatly with depth. To prevent contamination, or toxic effects on the biota at the surface, avoid reintroducing large volumes of water obtained from lower in the water column; excess water or sediment should be returned to station for appropriate disposal or treatment. Also ensure that sampling equipment is securely tethered, and leave nothing frozen into the ice that may cause later contamination.

Do not wash, swim or dive in lakes unless authorised to do so; these activities contaminate the water body and physically disturb the water column, delicate microbial communities, and sediments.