Testing traverse vehicles and scientific equipment for a future expedition

Getting ready for an Antarctic journey

You may remember a story in January about our station resupply from the ship Happy Dragon that included the unloading of Deep Field Traverse Project cargo. Since then, the traverse team have been busy assembling sleds, positioning containers and cargo on allocated sleds, establishing a traverse staging area and preparing tractors and snow groomers for a 22-23 summer deployment to Little Dome C – the site of the Million Year Ice Core (MYIC).

Part of the preparation for the traverse involves field testing vehicles and equipment, as much as possible, before the first big trip. For example, when one of the Casey skiway snow groomers broke down we took the opportunity to assemble a traverse recovery sled and used this to transport the groomer back to Casey's workshop.

In February we established a traverse staging area on the traverse route, a few kilometres south of the Casey skiway. The team hooked up a number of sleds behind our tractors replicating a traverse train and towed these sleds to the staging area, where they will remain positioned in anticipation of the first traverse. This was a very exciting day as our design and planning phases were put into action, successfully hooking up and then towing the sleds!

The other side of this project is the drilling of the MYIC. The first part of this summer kicked off the initial phase of the project which involved testing the new AAD-built drill in cold conditions. Despite the unfavourable weather experienced at the camp, it was great to see the drill set up and tested in these cold conditions. The team also used the expertise of our Canadian drill engineer to set up a smaller drill that will be used for the upper firn section of the MYIC borehole. Firn is a partially compacted type of snow that has been left over from past seasons and has recrystallized.

A bonus for some of the MYIC team was a trip to Law Dome summit in February to drill a shallow core to update the ice core climate record. This turned out to be a spectacular day, with a stunning halo around the sun made possible by the 30kt winds and blowing snow in the background. And of course we brought little luxuries to help keep us warm and full of energy including an urn and a toasted sandwich maker, not to forget jalapenos!! We knew it was cold when the water from the urn kept freezing before it dripped off the tap.

-Sharon Labudda (Traverse Team)