A packed final week of hard work…and a…UFO? ;-)

Time flies!  We’re back in Rothera at the end of our short field season.  In the end we utilized all of our available time to get the final big days done at the Marble and Patriot Hills.  The highlights include:

  • lots of ground-penetrating radar data in the blue-ice zones and out onto the main ice sheet to look at snow and ice structures below, something Kate will be working on for her PhD.  Kate has apparently identified a UFO buried in the ice although she has agreed further processing may be required to confirm that result;
  • Shasta and I gained a 2-meter rock core from the Patriot Hills in order to look at cosmogenic nuclide concentrations at depth, which should help us better constrain the age and erosion rate of the bedrock surfaces;
  • We carried the ground-penetrating radar kit up near to the top of the Marble Hills to determine the thickness of some of the ice beneath elevated blue-ice moraines.  This was done on a particularly cold and windy day, but the data look great and so it was certainly worth the effort!
  • We extracted more ice blocks for our collaborator who is working on microbes in the ice sheet and finally,
  • we finished up laser scanning and photography at a few key locations.

All in all, a very successful final week in the field!

tents

[please see our Gallery for the latest photos]

The return trip to Rothera took a few days, due to changing weather conditions at the different stopping points on our way back.  We overnighted at Sky Blue, a blue-ice runway nearly halfway back to Rothera.  Here we started our reintegration into proper food with an amazing chicken curry, cheese and crackers and bacon sandwiches!  The following day we flew the last leg back to Rothera with a rather spectacular flight along the bay, passing icebergs at wing level as we searched for Orcas rumored to be about.  On base we passed a few days drying our kit, repacking rocks and geophysical equipment, and generally getting everything ready to send back on the ship, which arrives next month.  We had a visit from the Chilean Navy and a ship full of tourists on a 4-week cruise around the Antarctic.  We gave a science talk to all the staff on base and enjoyed our first proper Saturday night, which is celebrated with a formal meal, ironed shirts, dresses, ties; a nice change from the normal routine.

We will leave the Antarctic later this week to start our way home.  The fieldwork is finished.  Now comes the time to process all of the data!  It will be 18 months or so before the bulk of our data is published; a long time, but I’m convinced it will be worth the wait!  Thanks for tuning in!  I’ll hopefully upload a few new photos from the field soon…