Ice Stories
Exploratorium Home

Welcome to Beacon Valley

BEACON VALLEY, ANTARCTICA– On November 3rd the field team arrived into Beacon Valley where we will spend the next six weeks working, sleeping, and enjoying life in sub-zero (Celsius) temperatures (mean summertime temperature is approximately -13°C and the maximum summertime temperature is typically around -5°C). Our helicopter flight en-route to Beacon Valley crossed the McMurdo Sound and I was surprised to see the ice edge (where the sea ice meets with open water). It usually isn’t visible this far south until my return trip late in the summer.

The edge of the sea ice viewed north from the helicopter just 30 minutes outside of McMurdo.

View from the helicopter during our trip up the Ferrar Valley.

The 90 minute helicopter flight to Beacon Valley allowed me to reflect on the conveniences one takes for granted such as running water, warm showers, and simple means of communicating back to one’s family and friends. I will miss that. I won’t have such niceties until I return to McMurdo but at the same time the thought of my science objectives and potential for discovery that will occur between now and the next time I set foot in McMurdo has me excited to begin the field season!

Helicopter “zero-eight-hotel” leaving our Beacon Valley camp after dropping us off at the start of the field season.

We arrived into Beacon Valley to one of the most eerie / thrilling experiences of the entire Antarctic adventure. After the helicopter drops you and your camp gear off and fades away in the distance you are left in a totally foreign and cold environment.

Total silence.

You realize you are very much isolated from what we call the “real world”.

Lead driller Tanner (blue jacket) and others looking for clean glacier ice for our initial drill site.

Initial drill site. Excavation down 20-30cm to the buried glacier ice. Note the unweathered rocks “coming out” of the ice surface. As the ice sublimates (evaporates) the material in the ice moves towards the surface.

The following day the field team excavated glacial sediment to expose buried iced in search for good drilling locations (i.e. regions of clean ice). Today the helicopter transported the drilling equipment to the site, we set up the drill, and we took our first core of beautiful glacial ice this afternoon. The drill is working perfectly and we are all in good spirits.

Drilling operations.

Field freezer. Our temporary repository for ice cores before being shipped back to McMurdo.
Tags: , , , , , ,

5 Responses »

  1. LOVE the view from the helo shot. Gorgeous and austere landscape.

    ~ ~ L

  2. What a great adventure that must be. How fortunate you are to have such such an experience

  3. Love the pictures and all of the information too,.Wow !

  4. awesome dude- good luck!

  5. beautiful pictures