This week at Casey we travel to Law Dome to collect ice cores, meet the newest resident of the west wing and have a look at the photos of the week.

Law Dome ice coring

The annual trip to Law Dome was successfully completed recently, with the weather turning out favourably. This allowed Andrew Smith (physicist and Chief Investigator for the project) and Krista Simon (chemist) from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) to perform sampling of the ice from a specified area at Dome Summit South (DSS), which is re-visited each year.

Travel to the area was performed by our latest addition to the Hägglunds fleet here at Casey station, and was facilitated by Tim Gill (Field Training Officer) and Nick Johnston (Station Mechanical Supervisor). After 6 hours travel the team arrived at Law Dome approximately 130Km inland from Casey, and set to work digging a small snow pit in order to carve out the beryllium (7Be) samples. Once this was complete, Andrew began the process of marking out, carving and cutting the small samples while four larger cores were extracted using a long auger and extensions, which ran through a base plate mounted on top of the sampling area. The lengths of these samples varied between 3 and 5 meters and represented up to 3 years of snowfall in the area.

After sampling has occurred, each sample is labeled according to the position it was extracted from and taken back to Australia in custom made ice core boxes where they are melted and the beryllium extracted for 7Be and 10Be measurement on ANTARES, an accelerator mass spectrometer at ANSTO. 10Be has been measured in many deep ice cores as an indicator of the intensity of the sun. Both of these beryllium isotopes are formed in the upper atmosphere by cosmic rays (which are shielded when the sun is more intense), but 7Be has a 53 day half life, so measuring them together can help determine the transport time of the beryllium. One of the cores will also be measured for stable isotopes and other climate proxies at the Australian Antarctic Division to help calibrate the region to the automatic weather station on Law Dome.

West wing’s new resident

For the past week there has been a new resident lurking around the west wing. Although he or she prefers the fresh air, there is no doubt that there is a certain attraction to this end of the building. Perhaps it’s the modern, clean lines of the bedroom fit out within? Or the palatial bathrooms? Or maybe even the soothing sounds of the neighbors snoring? Either way, we hope this little guy enjoys his stay and moves on when good and ready.

This little Adelie penguin appears to be going through his moulting stage, evidenced by the trail of feathers leading to his hangout. Passers by will often hear a scratching and rustling as he digs himself in and repositions himself, or may even catch a glimpse of him peering out of his tunnel entrance. His coat seems to be almost complete now, so we expect that any day now he’ll disappear off back into the wilderness.

Weekly gallery