Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 1973-74: VUWAE 18

VUWAE 18B (includes C, D, E until Nov. 23)

page 7

VUWAE 18B (includes C, D, E until Nov. 23)

On November 12 a party of seven set up camp on Shapeless Mountain. Of these Crump, Plume, Rowe and Blackwood were to spend 8 weeks at Shapeless mapping and investigating the Mawson Breccia, and doing some work on the Beacon sediments. R. Kyle, McPherson and Keys planned 10 days work on, respectively, palynology, Aztec Siltstone, and salt distribution, before moving south to the other localities. However bad weather, an extraordinarily heavy snow cover, and illness allowed a total of five days work only at Shapeless.

During the first 2 weeks the whole party experienced, to various extents, what was later determined as CO poisoning. The symptoms included headaches, dizziness, vomiting and collapse. At the same time high winds, then heavy snow prevented anything more than reconnaissance being done. A one-day toboggan trip to nearby Mount Fleming was undertaken by Blackwood, Crump, Keys, McPherson and Kyle on November 19. Here McPherson examined the Aztec Siltstone, though this was poorly exposed due to snow cover, and Kyle collected coal samples and tried unsuccessfully to drill sandstone for palaeomagnetic study.

On November 23 Kyle, Keys and McPherson left by helo for the Lashly Mountains. For the next 3 days Blackwood, Crump, Plume and Rowe carried out reconnaissance of the area. Early on the morning of November 27 Plume and Blackwood experienced dizziness and almost lost consciousness. By 9 a.m. that morning they had been evacuated to McMurdo for a check-up. Fresh supplies of kerosene and replacement primus stoves were delivered from Scott Base, but the remaining members of the party continued to suffer from headaches and faintness. The poisoning seemed to be accumulative, and with the bad weather conditions and little chance of outside work, this had become a real hazard. On December 1 Crump and Rowe were taken by helo to Vanda to recover.

An attempt to transport the whole party back to Shapeless on December 5 was unsuccessful because of bad weather. Since this seemed likely to continue, alternative areas of study in the Wright Valley, suitable for Honours projects, were worked on. On December 14 the weather cleared and Blackwood, Crump, Plume and Rowe returned to Shapeless. As the polar tents used in the first part of the season were of a heavier material than usual and were possibly causing or aggravating the carbon monoxide problem, they were replaced.

Bad weather and heavy snow again prevented any work, and delayed a pull-out until December 28. From then until the end of the season the party worked on sedimentary rocks in the Olympus an Asgaard Ranges bordering the Wright Valley.

Division of time in the field

Spent on geology 30 days
Lost due to bad weather, health, and heavy snow cover 24 days
Spent on helo shifts 6 days
68 days