Katie Joy, Recon Team, 1st January 2013, Szabo Bluff
Happy New Year everyone! Hope that you are well and happy and that you saw the New Year in with good cheer. The recon team have had a glorious couple of days after the trials and bad weather of the previous two weeks. This is a magical place we are in close to the Scott Glacier – stunning scenery and we have had weather which makes you question if you are in Antarctica at all. Yesterday there wasn’t a bit of wind and we could get away without wearing gloves. The big red jackets were stowed away (apart from Joe who seems very attached to his fine outer wear) and we basked in the sunshine. We spent some time driving around to familiarise ourselves with the local terrestrial rock (so that we would know what we weren’t looking for) and then searched a large blue ice sheet close to our new campsite. Today we searched three additional smaller blue icefields, and two larger ones.
Meteorites are more likely to be found on blue ice as it is very slow moving, meaning that the meteorites become exposed on the surface when it is ablated away by the strong Antarctic winds (i.e., the surface ablation is faster than the ice movement). The blue ice is a range of pale blues and has solid ripples all over the surface, like the surface of a wind whipped lake. The ridges and bumps are rather jarring to drive over on the snowmobiles so you take it pretty slow as you keep watch. On the ice we searched yesterday we found 8 meteorites and another 6 today, and we were pretty pleased with the area we have been able to survey and assess in two days.
Whilst you are driving around it is pretty hard to force yourself to keep your eyes down at the ice and rock with all the amazing views to distract you. I have had to take moments every now and then to take in the vista, before concentrating my efforts on the work in hand. We are surrounded by mountains of granite with exposed rock faces and boulders where there are feldspar crystals the size of your fist (today we found one crystal face size). I thought I knew what granite looked like until coming here – there are so many textures, crystal colours and sizes it is amazing. The mountains are jointed so that their faces are textured and mottled, and large snowy mounds overhang off the wind shielded faces. Anywhere else in the world these peaks would be covered in rock climbers – but here it is just us to enjoy them and it is a huge privilege to have this place as our office for a few days.
From Tomoko: 新年明けましておめでとうございます！今年一年がみなさまにとって素晴らしい年になりますように！