Posted by: sioglac | Dec 22, 2011

Barefoot Science

Lucas, Rory, Huw, and I had a fun day today of prepping the conestoga sleds for the upcoming seismic surveys, which let me think about some of the silly oddities of field work in Antarctica. Here are some percularities of doing work down here:

Finding something you put in a pocket is typically next to impossible as a result of the amount of random stuff that accumulates. Not only that, the sheer number of pockets to check is daunting–I typically wear two to three jackets, which when combined with my pants, gives me about a dozen pockets through which to look. When searching these pockets, you have to wade through piles of wrappers (chocolate bars, energy-type bars, cocoa and soup packets, empty bags of trail mix to name a few types) just to unearth the assortment of oddities that lie underneath. Currently in my pockets (this is POST-cleaning): iPod case, camera, floss, Nutrigrain bar wrapper, Bumper Bar wrapper, 3/8″ socket with drill adapter, flash memory card, bag of granola, knife, leatherman, glove liners, parachute cord, lighter, S-hook, sharpie, pen, pencil, chapstick, sunscreen, and notebook. Let me remind you that I already did a first cleaning of my pockets this evening. Impressive, eh?

We were man-hauling sleds around camp yesterday (to remove snow drifts) and today (to move gear around). These were mostly empty sleds that we were moving maybe a couple hundred feet. I cannot believe that Robert Scott and his crew man-hauled sleds up the Polar Plateua and to the pole. Totally nuts.

We use tall metal poles to mount permanent fixtures in the snow here. In camp, we have three poles stored vertically in the snow waiting to be deployed elsewhere. When the wind is blowing at the right speed, the poles turn into wind chimes. I was working by myself today in a conestoga and started hearing the chimes go. My train of thought went like this: “Who turned on the music? It’s a nice touch! Wait… no one turned on music. Is this in my head? Have we reached that point already?! Oh phew, it’s just the wind chimes.” This isn’t the first time this has happened to me.

In certain conditions, it can be significantly brighter in the tents than it is outside. The light also tends to be a bit yellow inside tents because of the fabric. When I’m in a rush and zipping up a tent, I sometimes catch myself reaching back in to flip the non-existent light switch off. I suppose that means I’m fully housebroken in normal life. That’s good, right??

Althought I love my blue hipster boots (which I’ve talked about before), they get wet during a day’s work, which I don’t typically notice until I change to my lighter boots and dry socks before dinner. After the past two days of shoveling and moving snow around and about, they were really wet. On top of that, a lot of my work was inside a conestoga today, so my feet were warm and wet and exceedingly uncomfortable. How did I solve this issue? I took off my shoes, bootie inserts, and socks. I never ever thought I’d be doing work in Antartica barefoot. Quite a trip.

And a quick programming note: I have tasked Huw and Knut with writing guest posts about their work. Hopefully I can send those along soon. Tomorrow, we start collecting seismic data.



  1. […] work was like last year and this was what we did for more than half the season. I talked a little about our active seismic work, but as my 9th grade English teacher taught me, why tell when you can […]

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