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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 2002-03: VUWAE 47

Communications with Antarctica New Zealand staff

Communications with Antarctica New Zealand staff

This program was one of the larger programs supported by Antarctica NZ in 2002-03 and it was clear that it would require a significant large part of the available surface vehicle resources. These resources and in particular their timing when they were available were a constraint to the field program. Field events such as the Divers working on the sea ice in October-November and the seismic operation (K114) working in the WOLZ before Williams Field opened (October 21) required the same resources. We also considered it to be prudent to under take NZ's first hot water drilling operation during the warmer part of the season to minimise freezing problems based on past experience with other drilling projects. The AWI HWD system is also operated outside without protection from wind and temperature. We proposed to operate in the January – February period when temperatures were still relatively warm but were also conscious of the limited time frame available especially the expectation of minimal aircraft cargo capacity for equipment return to NZ and therefore relying on ship cargo which had to be available early February. Antarctica NZ was aware and understood these constraints and accommodated our program within their resource capability.

A significant planning step was to confirm the position of the proposed HWD sites with the US Airfield authorities. This was done by several emails and a meeting with NYANG and ANT.NZ representatives in Christchurch in mid 2002. Several different groups approved the proposed 2002/2003 seismic lines and HWD sites in the US system. One site was too close to the Williams field cross wind runway but this was only apparent when we had setup our considerable camp. We and Antarctic NZ followed appropriate procedure, got US approval but it is now clear that the system at McMurdo is extremely complex and that the system and process is will have to be clarified for future work such as ANDRILL.

We did have some miscommunication and changes regarding the start timing of our field operation and our flexibility to change this was limited because of international flight travel by our German, Italian and US collaborators. There is a difficulty in planning around the Christmas – New Year period when few flights are planned but more a usually scheduled as the season progresses. Antarctica NZ's effort to get three of us on a NYANG flight was very helpful.

In future this HWD operation probably would be better planned for the warm and settled weather period from mid November to ensure a longer field period is possible without the cargo on timing constraints associated with the end of the season.