2009 Expedition to Antarctica

Week 2

(click on images for full-size view)

Friday, April 3

April 3rd found us with continued fine weather and a beautiful blue sky as we pulled up to Duthier's Point. This rocky knoll is one of the few places along the coast that provides access to the higher elevations of the Antarctic Peninsula and is clearly part of the mainland. Placing a GPS rebound station here, in a locale most recently deglaciated, would provide vital information on crustal elevation changes. We expect also to be able to evaluate on going changes in ice thickness as glaciers accelerate their flow and retreat near to this station, which is only 12 miles from the Bruce Plateau.

Antarctica 2009 - Andvord Bay

Figure 1: The vast panorama of Andvord Bay looking from the right (Duthiers Point GPS station) to the left and the southern end of the Gerlache Strait. The LM Gould is in the distance as is a small zodiac (can you see it between the icebergs?). The entire array of this GPS station is seen here with the receiver antenna in the far right background and the solar panel, transceiver, and battery box to the right. Our elevation is about 150' above sea level.

Antarctica 2009 - Bjorn JohnsFigure 2; Bjorn Johns begins the rock drilling for the monument plate upon which the GPS receiver is bolted into place. You can see the ice cap of the Bruce Plateau in the left background.

Antarctica 2009 -Raytheon Polar Services staffFigure 3: Raytheon Polar Services staff provided essential lift power and here our Marine Project Co-ordinator (Al Hickey, left back), Russell Freeman (left front), Alden Strong (right back), and Paul Queior (right front) pull up the nearly empty grey box. Dr. Kelly Falkner (NSF observer) has just brought up an 80 lb battery (ten of which needed to be hauled up onto the rock). Without all this help we could not have gotten the stations installed, so we are extremely thankful for the assistance provided by RPS. IIt was difficult to install this station and not stop to look out over the magnificent scenery. But we finished the job in record time, by 2:30 pm.



Thursday, April 2

Today April 2nd, the winds stayed calm, and the seas were low, so we pulled up just off Hugo Island, which is a very difficult place to land when seas are normal and winds are more than 10 kn. We were lucky today.

Hugo Island is a very small island with it's own little glacial (ice) cap and lies about 50 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula coast. It is off on the middle part of the continental shelf and therefore provides a critical data point for crustal rebound, where it is normally difficult to assess. The islands and "rocks" (Santa Claus Rock is where we landed) are composed of a dark, dense, rock, called gabbro.

Figure 1 shows Mason Fried and Eugene Domack installing the solar panels which power the GPS transmitter and receiver. The gray box contains 10 gel cel (12 v batteries). The ledge which the station is on is actually higher than it looks, as several rock steps separate it from the shoreline. A Gentoo penguin looks on passively with the LM Gould in the background. the small white probes on the top of the frame are for transmitting the data via Iridium satellite phone to Hamilton College and the UNAVCO data center (in Boulder, Colorado). the other white instrument is an automated weather probe which can measure winds, rainfall, temperature, relative humidity, and atmospheric pressure. the view is looking off to the Southeast, and the Antarctic Peninsula is in the far distance.

Figure 2: Getting ashore is difficult here and we first had to scout out a suitable landing cove or inlet to avoid even the gentle swells of today, which are quite benign. We found the ideal location, near to the rocky ledge where we installed the GPS station. It was still a lot of work to get the gear (800 kg) off the zodiacs and up to the station. Here Mason Fried is assisting the zodiac team (managed by Elizabeth Glass of Raytheon Polar Services) off load some of our gear (photo by Bjorn Johns).



Wednesday, April 1

Antarctica 2009 - fuelingMarch 31st, found us doing the fuel transfer to Palmer Station. On the back deck are Al Hickey (our Marine Projects Co-ordination) and the Palmer Station manager, Eric. The fuel is being transferred from the tan hose running across the deck, to the shore, and then up along the boat house (foreground) to the large fuel tanks (Orca picture on them) to the far right. This fuel will heat and power the Palmer Station through the long winter months which are starting to set in here with the snow fall today. Later tonight we leave for our first shore installation at the Ukranian base, Vernadsky.

Antarctica 2009 - Vernadsky StationOn April 1st we had a beautiful day (spent the night in transit) to land at Vernadsky Station. The station is located on the Argentine Islands, a group of small numerous islands and islets that lay just west of the Graham Land coast of the Antarctic Peninsula (south of Palmer Station). The base is operated year round by the National Antarctic Scientific Center of Ukraine (based in Kyiv). Here the base manager Dr. Oleksandr Lyashchuk (to the left) greets a group of us at the entrance to the base (we are in orange float coats). We were impressed with the base operations and the beautiful sight of the yellow and blue Ukrainian flag flying above our stars and stripes.

Antarctica 2009 - first GPS monumentHere Mr. Bjorn Johns (of UNAVCO) takes some last minute notes on the location of our first GPS monument, which we located on the top of a glacially carved bedrock exposure near the station base. We needed to use the dog sled (but without dogs) to haul the 800 kg of gear to the site. So old and new polar technology is evident in this image. The GPS receiver is only one small part of the entire GPS station set up. But this antenna is the location which we measure movement of the bedrock over time. The grey dome protects the antenna from weather and moisture.