Casey news is contributed this week by the station mechanics.

Water sampling

With the fantastic weather conditions last Sunday offering little to no wind at −20°C we were presented with an opportunity to head out onto the sea ice of O’Brien Bay and collect a water sample for the ongoing Antarctic Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment (antFOCE) project.

After parking the Hägglunds up at the water’s edge and enjoying a cup of tea to warm us up before the endeavour, we radioed into station before collecting our kit and heading out onto the ice to find the test location. Once in position, the Jiffy drill was fired up, and Mick and Nick went about the task of drilling through approximately three metres of ice to the brine and into the salty depths below.

The next step was to set up up the ‘meniscus tube’ which is designed to take a sample from the water one metre off the ocean floor. The springs were loaded and the unit lowered until it found its way into position. Brilly picked up the weight while explaining the operation of the unit before dropping it into the hole. As it ran down the rope, we waited with anticipation for it to collide with the actuator snapping both ends of the canister shut, trapping in all that Antarctic icy goodness.

With a nod of the head, it was confirmed that the job had been done. We pulled up the rig, packed up the gear and headed for the Hägg to extract the sample. Unfortunately at these temperatures the taps had frozen almost instantly, so we had to wait until back on station for a little warmth before we could get things flowing. The sample was withdrawn, bottled and recorded and will be ready for the antFOCE team to analyse when the opportunity arrives to get it back home.

Dieso workshop in full swing

With Wilkins now packed up for the winter, Sam and Nate, also known as SDS (Super Dieso Show) and Nick, the SMS (Station Mechanical Supervisor) now have assistance from Team Wilkins to complete the never ending list of annual servicing and repairs to all of the machinery.

With temperatures dropping below −15°C in the last week, and most machines blizzed in with snow from previous blizzards, it can be a four hour job just to start a machine by the time you remove the snow from the engine bay and plug a portable generator in to warm the engine. It is then a matter of moving the machine to the heated workshop and leaving it to melt out before any work can be started.

The dieso’s have also been preparing for the first midwinter fuel transfer for the year from the lower fuel farm to the upper. With the help of other tradespeople, we will transfer just over 300,000 litres from the six 90,000 litre lower tanks at the wharf to the five 90,000 litre tanks near the workshop over 14 hours, which will be enough to last us until the next transfer in October in order to empty the lower farm in preparation for the ships arrival to restock the station.