A couple of long drive days

 Katie Joy | 18 Jan 2019

We have had a couple of days of mixed weather in the field: from very overcast and cloudy, through to shining sun and 10-15 knot winds. We have covered some 130 km driving around — traversing across some spectacular stastrugi covered snow fields plus lots of clattering around searching on suncupped blue ice surfaces. Our faithful Nansen sledge ‘Lucy’, who carries our emergency field gear and spare fuel, has been flying over some spectacular bumps — as I drive behind Lucy when we are on linked travel she gives me good warning when I need to get ready for a jolt on the skidoo. However, the poor thing took a slide and tumble tipping over on our commute today. After a bit of digging, some shoving and heaving we managed to upright her again and we were on our way again towards a small nunatak about 15 km away. This one was quite different to our local hill as it had a much smaller amount of surface rock, no desert pavement, and more limited selection of rock types, though featured some nice cross-bedded sandstone. It gave us a good context view of the surrounding blue icefields to help plan where we would next drive to do some searching.

Katie enjoying the view [Credit: J Baum]
Bedded sandstone on local nunatak
[Credit: K H Joy]

Our arms and shoulders are a bit sore from the driving, but it has been pretty productive two days with five meteorites (albeit small ones!) found yesterday under really cloudy and poor contrast conditions, and two really nice ones with fresh-looking nearly complete fusion crusts today. With 7 meteorites found in blue ice in this new area, along with the one we collected on top of our nunatak we are now at a total of 28.

Meteorite find on ice — a nice complete fusion crusted sample [Credit: K H Joy]
What the meteorite sees as we excitedly approach it [Credit: K H Joy]

The only minor disaster is that we have now eaten our way through our stash of Christmas cake provided by chef Olly at Halley. It has been an amazing lunch and snack as work for the last 16 days, just perfect amount of tastiness, gooyness and energy provision — and my recommendation to future meteorite field teams is bring more amazing Christmas cake with you!

A word on field communications — in the field we are really lucky to have a satellite phone internet connection for sending text based emails and some limited file size images (sorry some of the blog photos have been low res) so I have been able to keep up with a brief overview of Geoff, Mike and Mark’s activities testing the detector panels over at Sky Blu, which seems to have gone very well — good to hear. In addition to weather reports and information about field team activities, we also get a bit of outside world news along with Antarctic stories sent over by the Rothera comms team and when we talk with Halley at our nightly ‘scheds’ scheduled chat (thanks to Alan, Sarah, Rich and Barney for keeping us entertained each night – please send more cheese themed jokes, the ones so far have been really gouda).

3 thoughts on “A couple of long drive days

      1. Erosion features found on Mars, Earth’s deserts and ignimbrites (volcanic tuff formations). See. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yardangs_on_Mars.

        Jamie is keen on the sound of the word as I recall from a Comparative Planetology Lecture last year. Internet search suggests the origin of the word is a similar Turkish word for a steep bank.


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