Saturday, January 8, 2011

Field day on the moraine at the head of the Argo Glacier

On Wednesday (15 Dec) we were scheduled to fly with Twin Otter to the Turret and Lonewolf Nunataks north and west of the Miller Range and CTAM. By the time we made our way to the Nimrod Glacier it was apparent that the Lonewolf site was not ideal as it was socked in with weather. As a second option we made our way to the Turret Nunatak. We did a few flyovers to examine the site but it appeared that the weather might close in there as well. So, we decided to go with our third option: the moraine at the head of the Argo Glacier, fairly close to our camp on the Ascent Glacier. The weather here was spectacular and we collected a large number of the type of basement clasts we have been looking for.

Getting ready to load into our commuter flight to our worksite.

All eyes were glued to the Twin Otter windows.

View of the Nimrod Glacier and Queen Elizabeth Range from out the window of the cockpit.

Crevasses on the surface of the Nimrod Glacier.

The moraine at the head of the Argo Glacier—the site we sampled this day.

Getting gear ready to search for clasts.

Gathering on the moraine; Dylan’s stone stacks in the foreground.

Large glacial clast in the moraine. Marsh Glacier and the Queen Elizabeth Range in the far background.

Searching for the perfect clasts.

Mark Fanning looking for clasts and wielding the Big Hammer.

Our fearless Canadian pilots: John Rees and co-pilot Bradon. Kenn Borek Air (KBA), a Canadian company, runs all of the Twin Otters in Antarctica for the USAP and has done so for decades. All of the Twin Otters are flow down to the ice each year all the way from Calgary, Canada. All the pilots, naturally, are Canadian and many are colorful characters such as John and Braydon. In the Northern Hemisphere summer they generally fly in the high Arctic.

John Goodge and Mark Fanning coming in from a hard day of work on the moraine.

The all important gathering and organization of clasts. A good haul!

Loading up the Twin Otter. Pilot John Rees did multiple low passes over the site before landing and was not particularly comfortable with the landing site because of the roughness of the hard drifts. On take off he wanted more weight in the tail to “sit on the stinger” to shorten the taxiing before takeoff as much as possible. There was nary a breeze and so no help with lift from the wind. But other than the rough taxiing, the takeoff was fine and uneventful.

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