This week at Davis: 8 December 2017

This week we have started to deploy a deep field drilling camp, done lots of flying and field operations, worked on infrastructure projects and enjoyed an amazing Saturday night restaurant meal.

Station update

This week we have seen a lot of flying operations supporting our field programs.

We established a fuel depot 220 km to the east of Davis using helicopters and our Twin Otter ski plane late in the week, and then subsequently established an ice core drilling camp at Mount Brown South some 324 km from Davis.

This camp is still being set up and so far we have made six cargo flights to the camp while Sharon, Bloo and Tessa are busy on the ice setting up tents and making a better skiway with the quad bike and grooming equipment delivered by air.

The infrastructure team has continued work on our reverse osmosis plant to get it up and running to make water later in the summer (see article below from Aaron).

Our mechanics Steve and Woll have been busy in the powerhouse changing a cylinder head on one of our generators while boilermaker John has started to recondition the one they removed for reuse.

A team of seabird biologists with trip leader Lötter was sent to Hop Island, to our south, for a few days seabird research work during the week. We also had a Twin Otter flight in from Mawson with people and another Basler flight out to Casey for folks bound for Hobart.

The helicopters have deployed people and cargo to various field work sites and assisted with airborne surveys of seabird populations on nearby islands.

Our weekend was one of mixed weather, yet some hardy souls still ventured out for walks to Gardner Island and the nearby lookout.On Saturday, we were treated to the most amazing dinner by our three chefs Lesley, Kim and Rocket. We sat down to three courses of modern Australian cuisine including duck breast, salmon rolls, amazing beetroot and chocolate dessert and much more. To see a meal like this produced for 80 diners is an amazing thing!

Our sea ice is hanging in there out the front of the station with regular checking and testing by Lötter and Derryn for both science and operations purposes. Trev and Ali even managed to go cycle touring out to Gardner Island to make use of the ice while it is still with us.

The start of this week has been very snowy with a beautiful white blanket over the station greeting us on Monday morning. The end of the week has us in 40-50 knot (that’s up to 90km/hr) winds so while station work continues our field activity is slowed for the next while.

Robb (Station Leader).

A cyclist rides on the ice.
Trev on tour.
(Photo: Ali Criscitiello)
Helicopter landed on the snow.
Establishing a deep field depot.
(Photo: Mark Savage)
A quad bike is loaded into a plane.
Loading difficult cargo in the Twin Otter.
(Photo: Am Smith)
A candle lit dining room.
Our dining room.
(Photo: Al Reed)
Two men measure ice thickness through a hole in the ice.
Lötter and Derryn measure sea ice quality.
(Photo: Robb Clifton)
A group photo on an island.
Walking party on Anchorage Island.
(Photo: Jason Burgers)
Dinners are prepared in a kitchen.
Our chefs plate up for 80 gourmet meals!
(Photo: Al Reed)
Two mechanics work on an engine.
Woll and Steve refit a cylinder head on a genset.
(Photo: Robb Clifton)

Reverse osmosis

After the relative tranquility of ship life, the trades groups have been upended onto dry land and are out in full force trying to get a grip on the ins and outs of our new home. Among the multitude of projects (including powerhouse shutdowns, advanced waste water treatment plant installations, and infrasound to name a few) and before we can start planning this year’s annual car wash fundraiser, there’s water-making facilities to be rebuilt!

One could be mistaken for thinking that obtaining fresh water in this part of the world mightn’t be a big issue. Sadly, here on the world’s driest continent (and with annual rainfall equivalent of around 3 inches) it doesn’t exactly prove to be a simple task. As the weather begins to warm and our station tarn begins to thaw, we have a window of about 6 weeks to turn salty brine into fresh drinking (and beer making) water before conditions begin to freeze again. We do this via the highly technical, space age process of reverse osmosis or 'RO'.

Sadly Davis’ state-of-the-art RO plant hasn't been working of late, and it has been left to the dynamic duo of Terry ‘Double-L’ Barrell and Aaron Brook to get facilities back up and running again. There’s plenty going on in the plant, with a new ultra filtration inlet manifold, air compressor, high pressure booster pump and pressure exchanger going in, as well as plenty of tender love and care to be administered by capable hands.

All going well, we’ll be pumping the clear stuff by end of this week. The plant operators are currently rounding up two of every local species, whilst the chippies are felling oak trees in the Vestfolds…something to do with a large boat. Until then though we’ll be doing our best to conserve the little water we have, through 3 minute showers and substituting our dinner drinks to beer!

Aaron (electrician). 

Two men working in a plant room.
Glenn and Aaron working on the reverse osmosis plant.
(Photo: Robb Clifton)
A frozen tarn with equipment in it.
Salty tarn water waits to be turned to fresh.
(Photo: Mark Booth)
Two men remove filters on the RO
Inspecting the reverse osmosis plant.
(Photo: Mark Booth)
Two tradesmen
The dynamic duo!
(Photo: Mark Booth)