GIGL field recipes

In order to stay warm and have enough energy to drill all those holes, we eat a lot. Sumo wrestler quantities and calories. Everyone is pretty happy with chile rellenos, breakfast burritos, or bagels fried in butter, chocolate chip pancakes and steak, steak, steak (or in Carli’s case: boca, boca, boca). We have a Coleman stove that runs off of propane and we use about 40 pounds of propane every 10 days to cook and make water (no liquid water here!). We had an exciting day here yesterday when this arrived:



We were so excited for these 5 vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit we did a little jig.

Typically we eat sautéd food (fried) and we drink high calorie beverages (hot chocolate, hot tang, hot coffee with sweetened condensed milk)

Steak (or Boca burger) fried in butter and chiles

3 frozen small cans of mild roasted chiles

4 frozen sirloin steaks (plus 1 Boca)

½ stick of butter (also frozen)

Boil 2 cups water, let cool 5 minutes and add meat and cans to water (meat in Ziploc, labels removed from cans). Let sit 45 minutes to defrost. Heat cast iron pan, melt butter and sauté chiles for 2-3 minutes. Remove steaks from bags, discarding any gross liquids, and cook until medium-rare. Sauté Boca in separate pan with butter and ¼ of chiles.

We’ve experimented with pancakes almost every day: Chai and applesauce, apple pie filling and cinnamon, pumpkin, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, mixed buttermilk and whole wheat mixes. And despite the boss Sarah’s disdain for not real maple syrup, pancake syrup.

We pre-wipe all of the dishes with paper towels and clean dishes with a small amount of warm water. Everyone is looking forward to the return of warm running water for dishes (and, of course, showers).


This Is Drilling

Today we finished drilling our final samples at the lower Taylor Glacier site, in a couple of days we will pack up and move to the upper Taylor Glacier site to drill our last samples of the season. So far we have drilled 60 holes and collected 114 samples. It is hard work and everyone is exhausted, so we thought we would show you what we do to drill.

Once we choose our drilling spot, we move the rig by pulling it across the ice:


After moving the rig, we secure it with ice screws and drill 1 meter sections of core in the following manner. The secured drill is placed into the core hole:


Drilling down a meter takes about 5-7 minutes (assuming nothing goes wrong) and the drill is pulled up:

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The drill has a head with pretty fierce cutters to cut through the ice and also holds all of the chips from around the outside of the core as it cuts into the ice. These chips have to be removed:

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And the cutters cleaned with a brush, which looks suspiciously like a kitchen scrub brush:


Then we use a core recovery tool (CRT) to pull out the core:

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The CRT has spring loaded clips that bite the core and hold the core in the CRT while it is pulled out. These clips are known as “dogs” and we are constantly cleaning the dogs in order to have unproblematic pulls:

20131211-IMG_2390After the core is plunged out, it is cut, bagged and boxed:

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Because the core samples weigh about 50 pounds each we cart them to their field site storage area by snowmobile:

20131211-IMG_2405Helicopters come to pick up samples every 3-5 days, some get packed into a huge box and are transported by sling load and some ride internally within the helos:

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But all have arrived safely in McMurdo for storage in the -20 degree freezer until they make the long boat ride back to the USA.

Sometimes each step can take 20 minutes and there are days that a single step will take four hours and we spend 12 hours working in the cold, blowing snow until we make our daily science collection goals. The ice surface is rough with sun cups so we have bruised knees, elbows and shins, and those dogs “bite” so our gloves have worn through on the fingers and duct tape is used as additional protection from cuts. But, each day is beautiful out here on the Taylor Glacier and we have been fortunate in being able to accomplish as much as we have.


The weather out here

Just a short post, it has been busy out here on the Taylor Glacier. Over the last week we have experienced almost every weather combination possible: howling 50 mph winds and incredible cold followed by days of warm sun and t-shirt weather. When storm systems come in, it can be calm with incredible cloud formations and, strangely in the Dry Valleys, snow.

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And, if the conditions are perfect the ice crystals in the atmosphere will act as prisms and treat us to a rainbow otherwise known as a “Sun Dog”:


Drillin’ for Ice!

We have started the drilling process! The weather here at Taylor Glacier has been so warm, that we have to drill for ice at night instead of the day. We had a shift last night that lasted from 1:30-10:15 am, which was very productive (6 holes that are 7 meters deep each!). If it’s too hot during drilling hours, the inside of the drill gets warm and sticky, and we run the risk of getting the actual ice drill stuck in the borehole.

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The hours of 1:30-5:30 am, the sun (which is always up where we are) is behind a mountain, so we are temporarily shaded.

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We tried to nap before, but most of us couldn’t sleep much, so we basically pulled an all-nighter, but we are happy to have our samples packed and ready to send back to McMurdo on the helicopter tomorrow.

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It was nice and peaceful when we had time to stop and enjoy the views.

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Thanksgiving and other fun…

This past Thursday we spent the first hours of the day drilling ice cores, and the second half preparing for the grand Thanksgiving feast of Taylor Glacier.


A helicopter arrived in the early afternoon despite deteriorating weather, and brought a wondrous and delicious surprise!


After the dinner, the weather turned a littler worse and we had a white wall of clouds and blowing snow approaching from upglacier (second photo is what it normally looks like):

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The helicopter pilots here are amazing, they pick up and drop off sling loads, which are boxes packed with supplies, and are tricky to maneuver.


In the meantime, we’ve had some fun exploring the area on snowmachines and Nansen sleds with our awesome drillers, Jayred and Gotez.

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When we aren’t drilling, here are a few photos that show what we are up to.

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A few members from I-159 (another science group camping and conducting research here on Taylor Glacier, ) took their kite out for a ride!


Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday!