Saturday, January 31, 2015

My first boomerang and arrival at the field site

This begins a series of retroactive posts describing our fieldwork.  I fully intended to publish these along the way but I got caught up in all the action.  By now, you may have read some of the articles that have been published about our field season.  Here is the inside story:

January 5-8, 2015

Our first scheduled flight was on January 5.  Donning our ECW (Extreme Cold Weather) gear and packing up our personal and issued gear, we headed up to Building 140, which is both the passenger check-in station and the Post Office.  Here they weigh not only your luggage but you as well so they know exactly how much the plane is carrying.  The next day we loaded up into a Delta, the large passenger truck shown below, for a slow ride out to the field.

Boarding the Delta

Inside the Delta
When we arrived to Williams field we had a few hours to wait before the plane was ready to take off.  The airfield consisted of two rows of trailers and some cargo lines and about three LC-130 aircraft on the field.  

Two hours into our flight we flew over our field site but due to poor visibility we were unable to land.  We found out from our friends at camp later that the fog rolled in only 20 minutes before we hovered above them, as they could hear the noise of the plane nearby.  We were away from the station from 8 am to 4 pm, having traveled without reaching our destination.  This is what it is to boomerang.  It is not an uncommon feature of Antarctic travel, but one I would not care to repeat.

At McMurdo, we continued to hold group meetings among the 12 remaining scientists to hear updates from camp and make plans for our time in the field.  We learned that the drillers were ahead of schedule, and that the hole should be open by January 8.  We all hoped we would make it out to the field in time.  We made a detailed plan of  what instrument should be over the borehole and when.   It served as a good guide for us for the first few days of borehole operations, and as time went on it became more and more heavily revised as we learned more about the environment. 

We were scheduled to fly almost every day after January 5, being delayed each time until January 8. The whole science team was thrilled when we arrived at the field site just a few hours before the drillers would finish pulling their hose out of the borehole, opening it up for use.  If we hadn't made it, the team in the field would have been limited to using those instruments which they had the expertise to run.  When I got off the plane around 7 pm, I was so excited to make my way around the site and check out our lab and the borehole that I only remembered to eat dinner at 11pm.
Pulling the hose out of the borehole

No comments:

Post a Comment