First Night on the Ice

From Phoenix airfield we climb aboard Ivan the TerraBus, and within minutes I am sweating: the Antarctic sun floods through the windows unobstructed, heating the bus to temperatures we thought we would never experience once this far south. Driving to McMurdo takes almost an hour, although the station appears much closer due to the absence of any kind of structure or object to provide scale. By the time I am in my room with my luggage it is around 9 pm. We have been in McMurdo for only two and half hours yet have somehow managed to attend two mandatory lectures, after filling up on hot food from the galley.

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Ivan. Sorry for the poor photo.
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Hut Point Peninsula, upon arrival. 
This season I share a room with fellow ROSETTA member Grant O’Brien, senior technician from GNS Science (formerly the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Limited), out of New Zealand. O’Brien excels in marine geophysics, computer modelling and programming, and airborne surveying. Last season, when a member of the Air National Guard asked how one actually uses geophysical data, O’Brien answered concisely explaining that one piece of data alone – say, just the magnetics, or just the gravity – would yield only ambiguous or nonunique results, and that reaching an interpretation with confidence involved a “harmony” of indirect methods. A harmony of methods; this resonated with me.

It is not common for teams on the ice to host members from five different institutions from the states, let alone, multiple countries. GNS’ interest in the both the bathymetry of the Ross Dependency and airborne gravimetry – as well experience with the ZLS gravity meter (which I will touch on later in more detail), our most reliable meter – makes the international collaboration mutually beneficial.

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My dorm room.
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O’Brien warms up the gravity meter. This little meter is not suited for airborne gravimetry but is used around McMurdo Station and Scott Base. 

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Author: Alec Lockett

Alec grew up in Belmont, MA and graduated with a degree in Geology in May 2017 from Colorado College. His senior thesis used gravity and magnetic data from the ROSETTA-Ice 2015-2016 field season to interpret and characterize the bedrock beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, West Antarctica. The project is an interdisciplinary effort with the aim of understanding the systems interaction between the Ross Ice Shelf, underlying water and bedrock through an airborne geophysical survey. Geophysics, along with remote sensing (of the cryosphere) and structural geology, are some of Alec’s overarching interests, which grew while working in Antarctica with members of the ROSETTA-Ice group during the 2016-2017 season. Alec is participating in field data collection once more this fall/winter (Antarctic summer). Interests outside of geology include reading, hiking, skiing and biking.

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