skip page navigationOregon State University

« Christmas at WAIS | New Year’s at WAIS, and the second-annual Antarctic Olympics »

Geophysics and softball

Posted December 28th, 2008 by

Name: Logan Mitchell
Date: Dec 28, 2008
Location: WAIS Divide
Time: 10pm
Latitude: 79°28’1.2”S
Longitude: 112°5’6.0”W
Elevation: 1,759m
Borehole depth: ~800m
Temperature: -19.6° C
Wind speed:  4.3 knots
Visibility: Unrestricted
Clouds: very few on the horizon
Wind direction: 293° Grid
Relative Humidity: 77%
Barometric Pressure: 29.23 mm Hg
Precipitation: None
Animals: House Mouse (see below)
Breakfast: Pizza, fresh salad (!), melon (My breakfast was last night’s
dinner at 6pm yesterday)
Lunch: Turkey sandwich with lettuce (!) (at 3am).
Supper: Toast, a piece of pineapple, cereal (mixed Cheerios and
grapenuts), and a muffin. (at 8am)
2nd Breakfast (Camp’s supper): Leftover chicken soup (6pm tonight)

Lots happening here at WAIS today, how do I write it all down and not put you to sleep?  After getting

Logan with the first WAIS ice core of the season.

Logan with the first WAIS ice core of the season.

done with my 11pm-7am shift catching ice cores as they pop out of the drill, I headed down to the galley to get dinner (which is everyone else’s breakfast).  The passing of days here doesn’t mean that much since my definition of day/night is all messed up, but the camp has Sunday off which meant that there was no cooked breakfast this morning.  I also found out that I was supposed to be the “house mouse” for the breakfast meal.  Since we are living communally here, everyone pitches in to help keep camp running.  One of the rotating duties is house mouse which entails doing dishes, cleaning up the galley after the meal, and shoveling snow for the snow melter, since all of the water we use in camp comes from melted snow.  So, I did my house mouse duties & then checked my email and went to bed.

When I woke up at 5pm it was still the same day (obviously, but it still catches me off guard all the time).  Since it was (still) Sunday, it was time to scavenge through the kitchen & look for food.  Over a hearty bowl of soup, I was surprised to find out that there were new people in camp!  That’s right, new people!  I knew a plane wasn’t scheduled to come today, so how did they get here?  While I was at work the previous “night”, a group of people who are working on a geophysics project had driven into camp.  This group is working and traveling along a 137 mile transect between WAIS Divide and Thwaites Glacier (north of here) using active source seismic techniques to learn about the ground underneath the ice sheet.  The way this works is that they drill a ~50m deep and 10cm wide hole in the ice sheet with a portable drill that is powered by compressed air, then drop about a pound of explosives down the hole & blow it up!  The energy from this explosion travels down through the ice sheet and into the bedrock below.  When it encounters a change in density, some of the energy is reflected back up to a seismic monitoring station installed at the surface.  A change in density could be caused by layering in the ice sheet, water at the base of the ice sheet, or different kinds of rocks below the ice sheet.  From this they will be able to tell what the topography would look like if there were no ice in West Antarctica, and give scientists an idea about what to expect if/when we drill into the bedrock at the bottom of the WAIS Divide ice core.  Pretty cool stuff.

After dinner a bunch of people started a softball game.  This was incredibly fun!  We have a real softball, two bats, and we used flags for bases.  Probably the best part was sliding into the bases on snow.

Leave a Reply