Meredith Nation in Antarctica
Meredith Nation is the Project Officer for the Aurora Basin project. In the field she will take on the role of 'core handler'. (Photo: Meredith Nation)

Australian Antarctic Division and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre

I’m the Project Officer for Aurora Basin. I work with the Chief Investigator, Mark Curran, and Project Manager, Alan Elcheikh, in linking what will be required in the field and getting it together.

During the field season I'll be a ‘core handler’. This means that I’ll be keeping track of the main cores when they come out of the ice in the main drill tent and move to the processing tent.

In terms of handling, the 400 m and 120 m cores will be drilled in 1.5 m lengths and each section will need to be cut into 1 m lengths, logged for physical stratigraphy, labelled and bagged. Orientation of these core sections is very important as we need to know which end is the top!

The cores will then be processed and analysed in the field – a first for the Australian Antarctic program. To do this the cores will be cut using a bandsaw and their electrical conductivity measured. Sub-samples will be taken for oxygen isotope measurements using a Picarro laser instrument. Oxygen isotopes provide information on past temperatures; one of the most important parameters measured in ice cores.

Once the cores are processed I’ll pack the various components into boxes and keep track of them all.

Career highlights

Way back in the distant past I did the first year of a biology degree before I did my cooking apprenticeship and 20-plus years in the kitchen. This included a summer at Davis (2002–03) and three winters (1998 at Casey, 2004 at Macquarie Island and 2006 at Davis). Wanting a ‘normal’ job I started ‘for a few weeks’ with the glaciology group cutting cores in the freezer at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC). That was in October 2009 and I’m still here!