Icebergs, Penguins and a Glorious Sunrise!

February 16th, 2010

To continue from yesterday, we were heading back in towards Antarctica to return to the shelf site.  This is the site that is so important.

According to the weather forecast, we had 3 and a half to 4 days to core and log this site.  Which is about what it was expected to take, so this looked to be the perfect time.

Meanwhile, we were still analyzing the cores from the previous site.  But we were on the way to the next site! 

Once we arrived on site, we started setting up to drill.  Because the water depth was only 500 meters or so, this did not take too long.  But because the sediment we were drilling into was weird, actually starting the hole took a while.

This is because we were drilling into material that was deposited directly underneath the ice sheet at last glacial maximum.  This makes it hard because this type of sediment (called diatmict) is full of little soft pieces and medium pieces, and big, hard pieces all randomly spread about.  This makes it hard because the drill bit does not like have soft pieces and hard pieces right next to each other.  It makes the drill bit not work well, and makes it hard to drill.

So while the tripping only took an hour or two, the spudding took a while.  Spudding is what it is called when you are just starting the hole.  Just as the spudding was getting finished, and we started getting cores, we had another pair of icebergs get curious and they started to come over and say “hi”.  Who knew icebergs were so friendly.  If only they were not so clumsey!  Oh well, we started to prepare a ‘free-fall funnel’ to drop so we could come back.

But these icebergs were really curious, and came over too fast for us to get the funnel assembled and put in place!  So we pulled out of the hole.  With another storm heading towards us, we started heading back out to ride out the storm.

But just before we left, we got the absolute best sunrise of the trip so far in my opinion.  These pictures do not do it justice!

The drive out was absolutely spectacular as well.  None of us got much work done that morning it was so glorious!  I stopped counting the really big icebergs when I reached 100.  And that was less then an hour into our transit, we had another 5 hours before we left the bergs behind!  It was sunny, and warm, and just breathtaking!  Here are some pictures, but sadly, they are not even close to how amazing it looked!

A lot of the icebergs had penguins on them, and while sometimes we were too far away, like the last two pictures above, other times we got very close!  Look, it’s Penguins!

Now, catching a good shot of penguins is hard, so I had help.  In fact I only took the first picture.  The second one was taken by Rob McKay, who is from New Zealand, and has much better luck then I do, I had gone in to get some work done!

The 3rd and 4th were taken by Rob Dunbar, who is from Stanford University in California, and is a very good photographer, and has a much, much better eye for pictures then I do, not to mention a much better camera!

Lambchop would like to talk, but the samples are still drying in the oven.  So it will have to be tomorrow!  In the meantime, she has started writing the Site Report to go in the initial reports volume.  See, here she is hard at work.

Bye for now.