This week at Mawson: 1 November 2019

The Mawson team complete a deep field traverse for science to Taylor Rookery.

Taylor Rookery Deep Field Trip

Between 23-25 October 2019, six members of the Mawson Station winter team undertook a deep field traverse to Taylor Glacier.

Since its discovery in 1957, the Australian Antarctic Division has visited Taylor Glacier to monitor the local Emperor penguin colony. From 1957 until 1988, visits were intermittent but since 1988, when Dr Graham Robertson initiated a coordinated research project, the colony has been visited annually.

Adjacent to Taylor Glacier is Taylor Rookery, an Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) that is home to the only Emperor penguin colony known to be located on land rather than sea ice; the colony is subject of annual photographic census and fixed camera maintenance work in support of science projects.

Taylor Glacier lies some 90-kilometres west of Mawson research station, accessible only during the winter season via an 8-10 hour sea ice traverse in Hägglunds vehicles. By nature of the distance alone, the trip is challenging. Adding to the difficulty are the usual harsh Mawson weather conditions and frequently changing sea ice conditions, requiring constant vigilance and proactive drilling to avoid large cracks and ensure suitable ice depth for vehicle travel.

Day one of the traverse commenced on a bright sunny low wind day (a rarity for Mawson!), with the team travelling 85 kmwest in two Hägglunds to Colbeck Hut.

After a restful night at Colbeck, an overcast windy day greeted the team for day two (the usual for Mawson!). Day two saw the team travel the short 5 km distance to Taylor Rookery, with four of the team entering the ASPA to successfully complete the photographic census and fixed camera maintenance.

Following completion of the science tasks, the team attempted a short trip to nearby Proclamation Point – the site where Sir Douglas Mawson first landed in 1931 to proclaim sovereignty as part of the British Australian and New Zealand Expedition (BANZARE). Unfortunately, challenging sea ice conditions stopped progress before reaching the location.

Following a second night at Colbeck Hut, the team returned to Mawson on day three – enjoying some spectacular sights along the way including jade bergs and passing wildlife. 

Traverse team 23-25 October 2019

  • Ian Whiteley (Senior Field Training Officer & Trip Leader)
  • Glenn Blackwell (Fixed camera maintenance)
  • Warren Arnold (Fixed camera maintenance)
  • Chris George (Census photography)
  • James Terrett (Census photography)
  • Tom Dacy (Hägglunds mechanic & census photography support)

  Mawson 72nd ANARE

Hagglunds in traverse to Colbeck Hut - Mawson.
Hagglunds in traverse to Colbeck Hut - Mawson.
(Photo: T. Dacy)
Hagglunds negotiating a blue ice traverse to Colbeck Hut - Mawson.
Hagglunds negotiating a blue ice traverse to Colbeck Hut - Mawson.
(Photo: J. Terrett)
Colbeck Hut - Mawson.
Colbeck Hut - Mawson.
(Photo: T. Dacy)
Colbeck Hut sunset panorama - Mawson.
Colbeck Hut sunset panorama - Mawson.
(Photo: J. Terrett)
Taylor Emperor penguin rookery - Mawson.
Taylor Emperor penguin rookery - Mawson.
(Photo: C. George)
Taylor Rookery fixed camera maintenance - Warren Arnold & Glenn Blackwell.
Taylor Rookery fixed camera maintenance - Warren Arnold & Glenn Blackwell.
(Photo: G. Blackwell)
Weddell seal & weaner near Colbeck Archipelago - Mawson.
Weddell seal & weaner near Colbeck Archipelago - Mawson.
(Photo: T. Dacy)
An spectacular jadeberg on the traverse back from Colbeck - Mawson.
An spectacular jadeberg on the traverse back from Colbeck - Mawson.
(Photo: T. Dacy)