Week 6 - Field work wrap up

Dr Mark Curran holds up a section of ice core
Dr Mark Curran with a section of ice core from the Danish Hans Tausen drill. (Photo: Tony Fleming)
A scientist with an ice core in a drill pit.Aerial view of the skiway at the ice camp.Equipment inside the ice core processing tent.A collection of equipment packed into bags and boxes.

Kenobi, the new heater, has been having problems since he was installed. He behaves well during the day but not at night time. Every morning the kitchen tent is so cold and we find he is still sleeping. Waking him up becomes Bloo and Malcolm’s routine work in the morning.

We had a few days of strong wind and white outs, and now again we have clear, beautiful blue sky days. We also saw a beautiful solar halo, rainbow and diamond dust at the same time. The environment here is so cold and harsh, but just awesome and amazingly beautiful. My vocabulary is not good enough to explain this awesomeness.

The weather has been a problem for flights since the beginning. The first group of us were stuck at Casey for three weeks at the beginning of the season, and now Tessa has been stuck there for 10 days. Considering this lack of flight opportunities, our field leader Sharon decided to start packing up and sending people back. Our processing team finished work last Wednesday (8 January) and packed up our equipment on Thursday. We will fly back to Casey on the next available flight. We processed up to 80 m depth of ice core.

While waiting for a flight the processing team has been working on snow pit sampling, helping to set up the Automatic Weather Station, and finding buried cargo and tents. Most of the work involves digging. Keep digging. Digging digging digging. Finding buried cargo is actually fun...it’s like a treasure hunt!

Meanwhile, the main drilling team (Mark, Simon, Trevor and Meredith) reached 300 m, and the French drilling team (Jason, Olivier and Nerilie) reached 100 m. We are now filling less ice core boxes, there is less drilling liquid and time is running out. On Sunday 12 January, considering everything, Mark and Sharon decided to stop drilling. We got 303 m of ice core from the main drill, 116 m of ice core from Eclipse drill, 103 m of ice core from French drill and 3 x 10 m of ice core from the Kovacs drill.

Mana Inoue is a PhD student at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperate Research Centre and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. She is working as a field assistant at Aurora Basin, cutting, scraping and analysing ice cores.