After a few days waiting on weather, Shaun and I got out one last time for the 2019/20 field season. We managed to get to a rarely visited site along the Mulock Glacier and finished off the work we started along the lower Skelton Glacier.
Each site had its own peculiar challenges…At Mt. Marvel, along the Mulock Glacier, that challenge was WIND. Regardless, the site is absolutely stunning. The mountain is made of a towering stack of old sediments, intruded volcanic rocks, ice falls and little sniffs of glacial erosion and deposition. We found a very nice staircase of sedimentary rock to hunt for perchies and managed to follow it up a few hundred meters above the glacier before facing a cliff. At the top of our staircase, we found stunning examples of glacial striations, a clear sign this site had be covered by ice in its past. After collecting a few erratics and bedrock samples, we happily left the brutal winds for more calm conditions.
At Fishtail point near the mouth of the Skelton Glacier, the only real struggle was scientific…still no sign of glacial action. We collected a few more bedrock samples to finish our work from lower down on the same outcrop. A quick pitstop at The Pyramid petrol station and we were back at Scott Base. All in all, the day was a great opportunity to get out and collect more rocks…we even managed to sneak in a bar talk at the Tatty Flag!
Our last day on the ice was filled with some relaxation, tidying up and some great views of the animal life starting to emerge as the sea ice breaks up for the summer. A quick hike to Scott’s Discovery hut and Hut Point Peninsula allowed for some incredible scenery. Here we got to see lazy seals, groups of Adelie penguins swimming and jumping, and a family of Minke whales. Certainly, a great way to close down our season.
In a great magical trick of Antarctic logistics and luck, I managed to make it back to Wellington about the same time as Katelyn who was coming back from Chicago. An incredible feeling to see your partner after a month away! ALSO, I managed to sneak back just in time to turn in my PhD thesis. The extended downtime at Scott Base and the incredible effort of my supervisors allowed me to basically turn up and hit print. A big thanks for all the support.
For now, I expect this blog to go a little dark as I take some time to rest and get ready for the year ahead. I’ll be posting short updates as I process the samples we collected this year and with any luck, share some initial results soon.