Sampling in the Fryxell Basin

We are preparing for another day in the field tomorrow, but this time to a new location.  We will be flying to Delta Stream in the Fryxell Basin in Taylor Valley.  Taylor Valley, like Miers Valley (our previous field destinations) is one of the dry valleys. These are part of the 2 % of Antarctica that is ice free and are some of the most unique environments on the planet.


We are traveling to Delta Stream to collect samples of water, soil, and algae.  This full-day trip will include a lot of hiking up and down stream beds and hauling heavy sample bottles (we are collecting 8 L of water at each site which weighs about 20 lbs).  We have not been to this location yet, so we don’t have a good idea of what the stream flow looks like.  We are hoping there will be a lot of water flowing so that we can easily take our 8 L samples.


This is what a sampling kit for the dry valleys looks like.

We were supposed to take this trip two days ago on Saturday, but bad weather forced the helicopters to stay grounded all day and we re-scheduled for Monday.  This was actually the first time Kelsey and I have seen anything besides condition 3 weather since we’ve been here.  Condition 3 means that the wind chill temperature is above -75*F, winds are less than 48 knots (or 55 mph) and the visibility is above 1/4 mile.  Condition 2, which is what we experienced on Saturday, is where the wind chill temperature is -75 to -100*F, and/or winds gusting up to 48 to 55 knots for 1 minute (or 55 to 63 mph) and/or the visibility is between 1/4 mile and 100 ft.  Condition 1 is the worst weather type and it means that the wind chill temperature is less than -100*F, and/or winds gusting greater than 55 knots (63mph), and/or the visibility is less than 100 ft.  Our condition 2 on Saturday was due to the wind speed.  Hopefully we won’t see any condition 1 days.  In those conditions, no one is allowed to go outside.  Wherever you are, you have to stay there until the weather gets better.


Rime frost outside of Crary Lab

Our helo flight tomorrow is at 8:50 am, so we’ll be heading to bed early tonight after a game of Settlers of Catan and some chai lattes in the Coffee House.


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