Happy New Years!

So we have been back in McMurdo for a few days now, working away to get all of our samples processed.  However, I was so busy while out at Frxyell (and the past few days), I have tons of pic I wanted to post ages ago!  To start off the new year, I thought I should clean out some of my back-log of pictures.

Before we headed out to Lake Bonney and Lake Hoare for Christmas, we were visited by the Santa flight!  This flight visits all of the field camps and brings a Christmas box with wonderful snacks that we don't normally get in the field -- among other things, our box had gourmet cheeses, fresh peppers, and grapefruits!!  We were all really excited for the "freshies"!!  The flight also gives some of the permanent McMurdo employees an opportunity to visit the field sites, which they otherwise would not get to do.  There was much anticipation to the flight and it was a lot of fun meeting everyone!

Santa Flight!

Santa Flight!

Next group of pics up is the Limnology Hole:

These are a couple pictures of the limnology drill hole (referred to as the "limno hole" here), which the Long Term Ecologic Research (LTER) project uses to study the chemistry and biology of lake Frxyell.  We had the opportunity to sample from the hole that Heidi will use to look at the microbial population of the lake to compare it to the supraglacial population of Canada Glacier that flows into the lake.

The hole doesn't completely re-freeze overnight, but with a few days of no sampling, a sheet of ice tends to form over the top of the lake water.  So to sample, you have to break up the ice with an ice chipper and then use the scoop to pull all the ice out of the hole (This is what Heidi is doing in the pic to the left).

The hole i actually quite beautiful.  The ice is so blue!  Below are just a few pics looking down through the lake ice...  

Looking down the limno hole

Looking down the limno hole

Close-up of ice at the top of the limno hole

Close-up of ice at the top of the limno hole

To sample the hole we use a device called a Niskin water sampler (aka. Van Dorn water sampler).  The Niskin is basically a tube with spring loaded caps at either end.  When the sampler is lowered to the desired depth, we drop a weight down the feed line that triggers the caps to close.  That way we can collect water from different depths in the lake!

Our Niskin sampler going down the hole!

Our Niskin sampler going down the hole!

Also as promised, I wanted to post more pics from our hike on Christmas from Lake Bonney to Lake Hoare.  It was so much fun!  There were many amazing sights throughout the hike.  For a little orientation, below is a satellite image of the Taylor Valley with the major lakes and glaciers labeled.  We started at Lake Bonney Field camp (located about 6:00 on the image of the lake below) and hiked toward lake Hoare around the Seuss Glacier.  The day after Christmas, we hiked back over the Canada Glacier to our camp at Lake Fryxell!

Satellite image of Taylor Valley (from Wikipedia)

Satellite image of Taylor Valley (from Wikipedia)

Throughout the hike way we saw 10 or so mummified seal carcasses, which are common throughout the valley.  Apparently, the seals come inland to mate, but get lost and instead of heading back out to sea, move inland.  They sadly eventually die of starvation and the carcasses are preserved for hundreds of years afterwards because of to the cold temperatures and dry climate.

A mummified seal carcass

A mummified seal carcass

Frost heave wedges forming organized cracks throughout the permafrost

Frost heave wedges forming organized cracks throughout the permafrost

A view looking up-valley towards the Taylor Glacier

A view looking up-valley towards the Taylor Glacier

The glaciers pulverize the rock material into a fine dust which makes many of the lakes have a brilliant blue coloring

The edge of the Seuss Glacier looking toward Lake Hoar

The melting edge of the Seuss Glacier looking out back up Valley

Posing in front of Lake Hoare!!  We made it!!!

Posing in front of Lake Hoare!!  We made it!!!

Posted on January 2, 2011 .