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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 1994-95: VUWAE 39

7. In the Field

page 7

7. In the Field

7.1. Event Diary

Following is a summary of our day to day events whilst at Scott Base and in the field.
Nov 22nd: - Bill Atkinson arrives in Antarctica.
Nov 23rd: - travel Wellington to Christchurch, accommodation Windsor Hotel.
Nov 24th: - flight check in 0400, departure to Antarctica 2315.
Nov 25th: - arrive Scott Base 0630, briefing and sleep.
Nov 26th: - Event briefing, Field Training in afternoon.
Nov 27th: - Field Training continued, preparation for shakedown trip.
Nov 28th: - shakedown trip to Cape Royds.
Nov 29th: - packing of cargo.
Nov 30th: - cargo taken to McMurdo.
Dec 1st: - gravity measurements at McMurdo and Scott Base.
Dec 2nd: - skidoo driving practise and HF radio testing towards "Room With a View".
Dec 3rd: - skidoo practise and discussion on GPS with Perry Gilbert (NZAP) and McMurdo USGS surveyors Larry Hotham and Barbara Littell.
Dec 4th: - skidoos delivered to ice runway, bag drag in evening.
Dec 5th: - to ice runway at ~1930, supervised loading of LCI30, take-off at ~2045. Touch-down in the field at Camp Lima (refer map) at ~2300.
Dec 6th: - day spent organising equipment.
Dec 7th: - measurements and testing at Lima measurement site (km-190).
Dec 8th: - measurements km-190 (Lima) to km-160.
Dec 9th: - camp move to km-130.
Dec 10th: - measurements km-150 to km-110.
Dec 11th: - no progress due to bad weather (wind and poor definition).
Dec 12th: - camp move to km-70 (in poor weather conditions).
Dec 13th: - no progress due to bad weather (wind, snow, poor visibility).
Dec 14th: - no progress due to bad weather (wind, snow, poor visibility).
Dec 15th: - no progress due to bad weather (wind, snow, poor visibility).
Dec 16th: - measurements km-100 (Kilo) to km-90.
Dec 17th: - measurements km-90 to km-70.
Dec 18th: - measurements km-46 to km-70.
Dec 19th: - camp move to km-22.
Dec 20th: - measurements km-44 to km-22.
Dec 21st: - measurements km-0 (Julie) to km-22.
Dec 22nd: - no progress due to skidoo repairs and battery charging.
Dec 23rd: - return travel km-22 to km-100.page 8
Dec 24th: - return travel km-100 to km-190 (Lima).
Dec 25th: - travel to km-160 and back to retrieve damaged skidoo (AL4).
Dec 26th: - packing of equipment in preparation for scheduled pull-out, also attempted measurements with seismograph.
Dec 27th: - flight postponed.
Dec 28th: - tent bound due to storm.
Dec 29th: - tent bound due to storm.
Dec 30th: - tent bound due to storm.
Dec 31st: - storm cleared, but no flight scheduled. Dug sleds etc out of snow drifts.
Jan 1st: - no flight scheduled. Food drop requested from Scott Base.
Jan 2nd: - flight scheduled for 2300, then postponed and postponed some more.…
Jan 3rd: - plane arrives ~0300 but doesn't land due to poor surface definition. With little warning, at 0500 plane arrives and drops US Navy "Survival" rations. Pick-up rescheduled for next day. Jan 4th: - two planes develop mechanical troubles en-route to pick us up, one of which we believe carried the requested NZAP food drop.
Jan 5th: - Flight travelling via Byrd eventually arrives on schedule at ~0100. In poor conditions (low cloud and poor surface definition) plane lands. Loading completed in 1½ hours. Arrive back at Ross Island ~0500, emergency landing due to damaged nose ski.
- day spent packing science cargo for return to NZ.
- board flight back to Christchurch at 2200.
Jan 6th: - arrive Christchurch 0630, returned to Wellington by 0930.
A summary of the time in the field is as follows:
total days making measurements = 8
total days lost to weather/repairs = 6
total days for camp movement = 5
total days for put-in/pull-out = 2
total days delay from field = 10

7.2. Method

In brief, a typical day involved working from camp about 20 to 25 km in either direction on successive days making measurements, then returning to camp. This removed the need to continually go through the time consuming process of setting up and pulling down camp every day. It also allowed us to travel lightly whilst making measurements; we only carried the science equipment and emergency survival equipment that included 2 Dome tents. A more detailed account of method is contained in the Immediate Science Report for the event

page 9

It is worth mentioning here the method used to navigate the traverse line. We used GPS equipment loaned from Alex Pyne (Victoria University). A Trimble Pathfinder Basic Plus unit was mounted onto a skidoo cowling with its antenna attached to the back railing (see Section 5). Navigation with such a set-up is accurate to around ±100m. Such accuracy seemed adequate for our navigation purposes, since we had no difficulties finding fuel depots deployed earlier by the Twin Otter. For scientific reasons, more accurate positioning was required at measurement sites and this was achieved using additional Trimble Pathfinder equipment set recording for approximately 15 minutes at each site, eventually to be differentially corrected to a continuously logging base station GPS back at camp. The base station data will in turn be differentially corrected with data provided by USGS surveyors at McMurdo. With this method, we should be able to determine measurement positions to within about a metre.

Whilst GPS is a convenient and relatively simple means of navigation and position finding, we found that discussions and advice from Dosli surveyor Perry Gilbert invaluable. In this sense, we believe that whilst it may appear GPS removes the need to supply survey assistance to science events, the need to have access to someone familiar with surveying techniques (both conventional and GPS) is still vital.