Some finds and not finds

Katie Joy | 10 Jan 2019

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good day in Antarctica is when the sun is shining and you have a bag of meteorites, and a frustrating day is when you work hard and cover a lot of ground but don’t find any at all.

To start with the positive — yesterday the new skidoo was up and running and we set off for a new icefield. The sun was shining and the winds were around 15 knots. We started off by exploring along the edge where the blue ice meets the snowline and within a couple of hours had found four meteorites. One of these samples is a really nice small domed rock with a flat bottom and a rolled-over lip — the sample inherited this shape when it entered the atmosphere and is thus ‘flight-shaped’. Only a few cm in size, but a satisfying looking stone. Another looks like it is the perfect half of an elongate meteorite — we haven’t located the other part yet. On our way back to explore the rest of the icefield we bagged three more samples — all about fist size, which made it a very good day of exploring. Some of these larger stones appear to be fragments, one is a complete fusion crusted sample (meaning that the whole piece of rock experienced some degree of surface melting as it entered the atmosphere). All the samples we have so far are a real mix of size, shape and colour.

Small but perfectly formed. Our lovely little meteorite with a rollover lip. Katie rocking the power ranger look. [Credit: K H Joy]
A good find today. Meteorite on ice! [Credit: K H Joy]

The only downside to yesterday was somehow getting my personal backpack caught up in the skidoo treads on the way home — it had worked its way loose as we journeyed over some rough sastrugi. A few blasphemous exclamations and a bit of reversing liberated it, and fortunately a primus flask seemed to have taken the main hit meaning my camera was OK – sorry BAS, I owe you a new flask.

To celebrate the success of the day, I donned a new pair of clean socks last night (a treat when you have limited amounts of field clothes), we watched a movie, and had some tasty hot chocolate.

Julie taking a look at the local terrestrial surface rock in our ice amphitheatre. [Credit: K H Joy]

Today brought more sunshine and 10 to 15 knot winds — it felt a lot colder than yesterday so extra layers were needed. We headed back to the first icefield where we had discovered some meteorite samples and searched for most of the day. By lunchtime we hadn’t located any meteorites, and so headed down into an amphitheatre of ice next to the nunatak. There were lots of terrestrial rock that had fallen down the hillside and were lying on the ice, some sinking into little ice pockets (similar to what we saw at Sky Blu). None were meteorites — we crawled around on our bellies checking. After our break we put in a few more search lines, but didn’t find any more samples so decided to venture on to a new icefield and explore there. A couple of frustrating hours later with no more meteorite finds we returned to camp to recharge and eat. Hopefully tomorrow will be a more productive day with sunny skies and some bombastic meteorite finds.