Mark Curran's project wrap-up

The second group of Aurora Basin team members pose at the camp site with the Australian and French flags flying.
The second group of Aurora Basin team members after the mid-season personnel changeover. (Photo: Mana Inoue)

It is with great excitement that we can announce that we have achieved all the scientific goals for the Aurora Basin field project. This project was not possible without Alan Elcheikh's project management, Meredith's huge amount of work over the last two years, and Sharon’s exceptional field leadership. These three people have particularly worked above and beyond the call of duty.

Thank you for the support from staff at the Australian Antarctic Division (Kingston) and Casey station for getting this project off the ground and for continued support, particularly as we are still in the field and the weather not been ‘flying friendly’. Thank you to all the scientific partners and agencies involved in the project, in particular the Australian Antarctic Division who provided the major funds, and our other scientific partner agencies, Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC, Centre for Ice and Climate (CIC, University of Copenhagen), Desert Research Institute (DRI, US) and Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’Environnement (LGGE, France), who contributed significant co-funding and in kind support.

We are indebted to the French Antarctic program (IPEV) for transporting all our field gear to Dumont d'Urville, storing it for a year, and for launching a specific traverse to Aurora Basin. The French traverse team, led by Anthony were instrumental in getting us to the Aurora Basin site, and many thanks go to this team, which included Sharon, Tas and Noel, for getting all the gear to the site, establishing the skiway and setting up the camp in very difficult weather conditions.

The Aurora Basin field support staff, Noel, Bloo, Jen and Malcolm, led by Sharon, were a huge asset in difficult weather conditions, providing endless support for us to achieve our scientific goals. They all should feel a huge sense of achievement towards these scientific goals and we are all very grateful for their amazing skill sets and work ethic. Jen’s cooking was filling, tasty (delicious!) and always prepared to a very high standard, under the difficult site conditions, with flexibility depending on the work groups. Bloo, Noel, Sharon and Malcolm did so much around camp; from servicing the generators, moving cargo, loading/unloading planes, grooming the skiway, digging snow, making water, washing up (the Doc excelled here), and keeping ‘Toby’, our main heat source, going. A special thanks to Meredith and Jen for their tireless work at Casey, including, moving and organising cargo, and helping out in the kitchen.

A huge thank you to Meredith, as mentioned above, for all her preparation work over the last two years, for her main Aurora Basin core logging, bagging and core buffer management, automatic weather station installation work, and all the other very helpful tasks she did to make everyone’s life easier in camp.

A huge thank you to Trevor and Simon for drilling the main core – the primary aim of the project – using a well prepared Danish Hans Tausen drill system and executing their role with hard work and exceptional professionalism whilst bringing a great sense of calm and humour to camp. Everyone enjoyed their company, despite the aroma of Estisol.

Thank you to Tas, David, Jerome and Chunlei for their role in drilling, logging and firn air sampling the three inch shallow core. Thank you to Olivier, Jason and Nerilie for drilling and logging the four inch shallow core, and Trevor and Simon for assisting when required. Thank you to JP, Simon, Joe, Wang, Olivia, Mana, Chris and Holly for all their work setting up the processing equipment, and Olivia for leading the team during core processing. Thank you to Andrew for his companionship and setting up a laser spectrometer in the kitchen tent, calibrating and producing the first field analysis of ice core stable isotope samples in the Australian program, and Holly and Olivia for continuing to maintain this ‘laboratory’. A thank you to Mana for looking after all the core boxes, and weighing, labelling and logging them for transport, and for writing the interesting blogs. Thank you to Jason for providing the accurate GPS locations for all sampling sites and the automatic weather station at Aurora Basin. Thank you to Holly and the snow pit team (Olivia, Chris and Mana) for getting out there in difficult weather conditions and persisting to get to 2.5 m, sampling for 10 different parameters.

For a list of drilling, processing and snow pit sampling achievements see Mana's final blog post.