Sojourn at Law-Racovita
This week a team of four brave adventurers went to the Larsemann Hills to advance the cause of international science, and have a little bit of fun.
Australia maintains Law-Racoviță station in the larsemann Hills jointly with the Romanian government. It's not normally occupied, though occasionally visited by expeditioners at the nearby Russian and Chinese stations. We travelled in by helicopter and stayed at Law-Racoviță for three nights.
On the first evening we visited the Russian base, Progress II, and spent time with Dr Alexandra Frank-Kamenetsky, Director-General Science for the Russian Antarctic Expedition as well as the station leader Victor Vinogzadov.
We were shown their new facilities, just being finished after a fire in 2008 destroyed their living quarters. We were also shown several new scientific instruments being installed such as their magnetometer hut. This had to be custom made with virtually no steel and included hand crafted aluminium heaters and a wooden snow shovel. They have also installed a riometer similar to the one at Davis and we discussed their efforts to develop snow compaction techniques which will allow heavy wheeled aircraft to use Progress' snow runway.
During the second day we walked the Larsemann Hills. Several years ago one of the apple's at Law-Racoviță exploded in the wind and was scattered across the area. It was a while before the wreckage was collected and the wind had broken much of it into small scattered pieces. We found four pieces several kilometers from the station, each about 30cm square, and collected them for proper disposal.
We also climbed the highest peak in the south western corner of Broknes peninsula and discovered that the top of the unnamed hill had a high concentration of red garnet. This was both embedded in the rock and released by weathering to sit on the ground.
On the third day we visited Zhongshan Station, the Chinese presence in the Larsemann Hills. We spent time with the station leader, Dr Desheng Han, also an atmospheric physicist in his former life, atmospheric physicist Dr JianJun Liu and the surveyor Dr Yujun.
Dr Ray Morris, Dr Liu and Dr Han discussed past papers, magnetic shock events, auroral activity and future research directions. In particular they are considering a LIDAR system for one of their stations and we arranged to give a presentation on the Davis LIDAR on our next visit.