This blog and web site has been set up by Drs. J.P. Walsh and Reide Corbett, leaders of the Sediment and Solute Transport on Rivers and Margins (SSTORM) Research Group. Corbett and Walsh are faculty at East Carolina University and the UNC Coastal Studies Institute. Support for our research has been provided by the National Science Foundation, NOAA, the State of North Carolina, the Renaissance Computing Institue, East Carolina University and other entities.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Way South...

The last I wrote, we were headed south. Well, we kept going south
until we crossed the Antarctic Circle (66 degrees 33.7 minutes S) and
didn't stop there. It is the first time I had crossed the famed
global line to the south and was pretty excited about it. Our
destination was Stonington Island (68º11'S, 67º00'W)…check it
out on a map or Google it. There are two field bases on the Island, one
American (East Base) and one British (Base E). East Base was
established in 1939 by Richard Byrd and later occupied by the Ronne
Expedition (1947-48), which included the first two women to overwinter
in the Antarctic. Base E was constructed by the UK in 1946 100m from
the US East Base. These bases were primarily used as a staging post to
access the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Today, the Bases serve as
historic monuments to the early explorers of the region. Cruise ships
still stop, offloading a few passengers to have a look around. Our
group was also lucky enough to have a look. One of the scientists on
the ship made this whole journey to spend about 6 hours at East Base,
collecting environmental samples of refuse piles, shingles, insulation,
tools, film, etc. This sampling is being conducted prior to the US
giving the Base over to the UK (at least that is my understanding). In
fact, we had picked up a couple Brits from one of the British Antarctic
Survey stations, Rothera (I included a picture of this base I took from
the ship), on our way down so they could do some repairs on Base E.

It was an amazing visit! I really felt like I was stepping into a bit
of history. There were all sorts of little "artifacts" left
around…from shoes, dishes, generator, etc. The island itself is quite
small, I walked the circumference while I was there…meeting several
seals and penguins along the way. I was even "dive-bombed" by a
frustrated Skua (rather territorial around these parts). It was also
amazing to just sit of the rocks and take in the breathtaking
scenery…the pictures won't do it justice! After a ½ day on the
island we started north again. One thing I noted on the way back, the
further south I had traveled, the "meaner" the ocean appeared. Yes,
this is certainly due to our weather, but it just seemed more gray, more
mysterious…can't quite explain it, so you will just have to trust
me.

In another couple days we will arrive back at Palmer Station. We have
equipment and people to load on the LMG. We will likely spend a few
days there before heading north, with a short stop at Cape Shirreff
along the way. We are still 2 weeks before arriving back in Chile, but
it almost feels like things are coming to a close.

1 comment:

  1. Love the update and pics! Surreal! Looking forward to you coming home!

    ReplyDelete