On Thursday morning we found out that we would be heading to Taylor Glacier at 7:30 pm that night! We spent the rest of the day preparing for the field, doing last minute laundry and sending off our final emails. We went down to the helo-pad about 45 minutes before our flight, picked out our helmets and weighed our small bags and ourselves. Getting up in the air and seeing McMurdo Station, Ross Island and the Ross Ice Shelf was an amazing experience.
We could see seals down on the sea ice, and our pilot was nice enough to fly us up Taylor Valley so we could see the toe of the Taylor Glacier.
At the toe of the glacier, you can see a small dark red stain called Blood Falls, which is oxidized iron from possible microbial activity. Scientists are currently studying this phenomenon to characterize the microbial communities and subglacial chemical reactions.
The view up the glacier was amazing; it’s hard to believe that the glacier is more than 60 kilometers long! The mountains and glaciers here are large, but without trees, animals or buildings it is hard to see a real scale. Melt channels at the toe of the Taylor that look tiny while flying over actually have cliffs that are hundreds of feet high.
We landed safely on the glacier and we were in awe for the first couple of minutes after landing.
It was pretty late that night but we did have time to set up one mountain tent before the rest of us slept in the endurance tent (cooking/office tent). Since we are camping on the ice, we had to drill into the ice to properly anchor the tent.
The next morning we broke into our food and Carli had a great time organizing everything for us! Here is a picture of her in her element:
Our first night we ate very well, halibut with lemon and dill, and pasta with vegetables.
The next day, we visited an ice cave where we will store our ice cores before the helicopter comes to pick them up.
The views next to ice cave were unbelievable! We feel so lucky to be here.
We haven’t collected any of our cores yet, the drillers are finishing up the set up of the drill (the Blue Ice Drill, also known as the BID), and making sure that they are drilling and extracting the core the same way each time for consistency.
We’re hoping to get our first cores tomorrow, as long as the weather cooperates. The last 2 days have been very windy, sustained wind of about 30 mph, with gusts up to 40-50 mph. Keep on checking the blog for more pictures and information about collecting our ice cores!