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.
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.
March 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.
On 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.
Here 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.