A Woop Woop Journey

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This week at Davis: 12 August 2011

A trip to Woop Woop on Monday allowed a team of extreme adventurers an opportunity to explore the lower plateau for crevasses. Finding a crevasse would allow the SAR team some valuable training time in one of nature’s beautiful yet dangerous creations.

A crevasse is a deep crack in an ice sheet or glacier (compare to crevice, which is in rock). Crevasses form as a result of the movement and resulting stress generated when two semi-rigid pieces above a plastic substrate have different rates of movement. The resulting intensity of the stress causes a breakage along the faces.

Crevasses often have vertical or near-vertical walls, which can then melt and create seracs, arches, and other ice formations. These walls sometimes expose layers that represent the glacier's stratigraphy.

Crevasses are more narrow at depth as it is here that pieces of the glacier may rub and break against each other. Crevasse size often depends upon the amount of liquid water present in the glacier. A crevasse may be as deep as 45 metres, as wide as 20 metres, and can be up to several hundred metres long.

The presence of water in a crevasse can significantly increase its penetration. Water-filled crevasses may reach the bottom of glaciers or ice sheets and provide a direct hydrologic connection between the surface, where significant summer melting occurs, and the bed of the glacier, where additional water may lubricate the bed and accelerate ice flow.

Anyway with our trusted and experienced guide Cookie expertly manoeuvring the blue hagg over large sastrugi, around gently laid moraines and into crevasse territory. Rob, Cory and myself looked on eagerly in anticipation of finding one of these immense cracks.

Due to the previous months weather, snow had built up to such heights that it was nigh on impossible to locate one of the magical slots. So with the mission of extracting a trailer from Woop Woop still to be completed, it was decided to end the hunt and continue with the day’s work program. As much as we would have it promoted, life on the frozen continent doesn’t always go to plan.

I’m sure there will be another day soon in which to go crevasse hunting... but Monday was not to be the fruitful one. Another Antarctic factor though is often during the course of the day beauty will come up from nowhere and blindside you.

The view from Woop Woop looking over the Vestfolds was amazing. So too was the sunset that accompanied our journey back to station. On arrival back on base we were met by an aurora that had paired up with the ever circling moon to put on a display that, coupled with a starry horizon and a few cloudy wisps, showed that Mother Nature has an endless supply of magical wonders that often appear when we’re not looking for them.

Wop Woop Camp.
Woop Woop, the camp on the edge of the great white hell.
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Sunset long Fjord
Sunset on the way home
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Aurora Davis
Home for an Aurora
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Vestfold Hills
looking out across the Vestfold hills on the way back.
(Photo: Graham Cook)
Hagg, long Fjord
Heading back to Station
(Photo: Justin Chambers)
Glacial Crevassing
(Photo: Unknown)
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