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Journals 2005/2006

Michelle Brand-Buchanan
Alexandria Magnet Middle School, Alexandria, LA

"Antarctic Drilling (ANDRILL) Site Survey"
October 16 - November 29
Journal Index:
October 17 - 23 - 29
November 2 - 10 - 21 - 22 - 29

November 2, 2005
Fire in the Hole!/ My first storm in the field!

The Thunder sled follows behind the drill rig and Marve Speece, a scientist with ANDRILL, announces "Fire in the Hole" over the radio. An air gun is lowered into the open water, and a little red button provides all of the power! The reflection of the waves are captured by the geophones trailing behind the Thunder Sled. Each geophone detects the waves, and it is important to be "quiet on the set" during this process; the sound of crunching snow is even picked up by the geophones.

When the wind is blowing above 10 mi/hr, the geophones can provide this unwanted "sound" to the scientists. Some people have the job to ride the snow mobiles up and down the line to the geophone that is receiving too much noise and bury it or make sure it is flat against the ice. This ground-breaking technology is providing ANDRILL an edge on collecting data. The New Zealand ANDRILL team is also doing seismic surveying, but they are using dynamite to produce the "acoustic" wave.

I experience my first storm in the field today. I awoke at 3:15 this morning to my tent's sides flapping in and out; it was like being on the inside of a balloon that was inflating and deflating rapidly. It was a condition 1 (winds above 63 mph, wind chill colder -100F, visibility, less than 100m) until about 7:00 this morning (then turning into a condition 2 - Winds 55-63mph, wind chill between -75F/-100F, and visibility between 100 m/ 1/4 miles), but I still didn't get out of my tent until around 3:00 in the afternoon. My tent-mate, Laura Lacy, ventured to the toilet tent around 9:30, she returned covered in snow.

When I awoke a second time, around 5:30 in the morning, I could hear the tent poles being picked up by the wind. I kept saying over and over, "The Kiwis tied us down, the Kiwis tied us down..." Tony and Luke are perfectionists; thank goodness the Kiwis did tie the tent down, because around 2:30 in the afternoon, I heard the sound of shoveling snow. David Harwood, one of the lead scientists, was "burying us in". Wind had blown the snow away that was covering our tent edges - no wonder it was getting chilly! Those ropes the Kiwis knotted where the only thing keeping the tent from flying away! Hurray for the Kiwis!

It is now 12:42 AM, Thursday, I slept so much during the day, I am finally feeling the sleepiness. I hear the roar of the wind again. I must take my last potty break before heading to bed.

Another storm is on the break.

Inside the Scott tent during a storm.   Putting the air gun into the hole.