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

LOGISTICS REPORT K047: Climate and Landscape History from shallow drilling in the Dry Valleys 2002-03

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K047: Climate and Landscape History from shallow drilling in the Dry Valleys

Antarctica New Zealand 2002/03

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A model to explain the occurrence of ground ice in glacial sediments and bedrock at high altitudes (>1000m) throughout the Dry Valleys where liquid water is rare was developed from work on Table Mtn. (Dickinson, 1997; Dickinson and Rosen, 2002). Although this model may apply at Table Mtn. for the very old glacial sediments of the Sirius Group, it has yet to be tested at other locations in the Dry Valleys. Massive ground ice was discovered for the first time in Pearse Valley during the field season 2001/02.

The sampling programme of the 2002/03 season aims to 1) clarify the nature and origin of massive ground ice in Pearse Valley, 2) gain a better insight into the glaciomorphological history of Columnar, Pearse and Victoria Valleys, and 3) clarify the evolution and occurrence of sand dunes in Pearse and Victoria Valleys.


Name Designation Organisation Departed Chch Returned Chch
Warren Dickinson Event Leader VUW 9 Nov 2002 11 Dec 2002
Nicola Wilson Honours Student VUW 9 Nov 2002 13 Dec 2002
Cliff Atkins PhD student Ex K114 VUW 9 Oct 2002 12 Dec 2002
Camilla Colebatch PhD Student VUW 9 Nov 2002 11 Dec 2002
Joe Trodahl Professor Ex K 131 VUW 3 Nov 2002 18 Nov 2002
Daniel Pringle PhD Student Ex K 131 VUW 1 Nov 2002 23 Nov 2002
Hamish McGowan Lecturer U. Queensland 25 Nov 2002 11 Dec 2002
David Neil Lecturer U. Queensland 25 Nov 2002 11 Dec 2002


i.No suggestions to change the application process
ii.Antarctica NZ staff are excellent
iii.No suggestions on maps and aerial photos
iv.Pre season information is generally good, receiving the field manuals in advance this year was very useful
v.No suggestions on change to the medicals etc.



Reception and planning for your event:

The K047 primary objective supported by Antarctica NZ was to carry out sampling of the sand dunes in the Pearse and Victoria Valleys, and to undertake reconnaissance glaciomorphological mapping and sampling of massive ground ice in Pearse Valley. Because there were only 4 people associated with the event, logistical planning was minimal. Selection of actual campsites in each of the valleys was accomplished largely by relying on previous year's campsites. Scott Base personnel provided excellent support. There was a minor incident during the first fly-out of event personnel when the second load of passengers and equipment was allocated a US helo transport in the last minute. The straight-pole polar tent had to be exchanged to a foldable polar tent due to the restrictions by the US helo programme (transport of polar tents on the skids is not permitted) and there was no time to put the tent up to check it – this particular tent turned out to be very difficult to put up due to a problem in one of the supporting poles.


Availability and condition of equipment received:

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The equipment made available to K047 from Scott Base was in good condition and performed well in the field with the exception of two primus stoves (box type). All Scott Base equipment was tested and repacked at Scott Base. However, it was difficult to obtain equipment that was not on the original request list, prepared 3 months in advance. The reason is largely because of the limited resources at Scott Base and the large number of field parties that must be supported. Obtaining equipment (because of an altered situation) at the last minute is always problematic.


Field training:

AFT was undertaken by Nicola Wilson Camilla Colebatch Joe Trodahl and Daniel Pringle; Cliff Atkins and Warren Dickinson had a refresher course.


Delays at Scott Base, whatever the cause:

There was a one day delay (only for Colebatch) for the flight out from Scott Base on 10 December, this was due to the weather conditions.


Safety and Risk Management Processes:

These processes were discussed with Jim Cowie, operations manager, prior to departure for the field.

*Event Diary

SB=Scott Base; PV=Pearse Valley; VV=Victoria ValleyCA=Cliff Atkins; CC=Camilla Colebatch; DN=David Neil; DP=Daniel Pringle; HM=Hamish McGowan; JT=Joe Trodahl; WD=Warren Dickinson
Date Main Activities and Location Other Comments
10 Nov Arrive in ChCh, kit-up
11 Mon Depart for SB at 9:00am, boomerang back to ChCh due to weather at SB
12 Tue Depart for SB at 8:30am, arrive at 2:30pm, briefing and AFT briefing
13 Wed SB, NW & CC AFT; CA & WD pack field equipment windy conditions with snow,-14C
14 Thu SB, NW & CC complete AFT; CA & WD pack field equipment beautiful walk on the sea ice
15 Fri SB, testing and final packing of field equipment,repacking of food boxes
16 Sat SB to Table Mt, NW,WD,JT&DP 1st helo; CA&CC 2nd last minute swap of polar tents
17 Sun TM, recon walk around the area wind picking up,very windy night
18 Mon TM, OSL sampling, recon Columnar Vly and reprogram temp probes late finish
19 Tue TM, shallow drilling on polygons in Columnar Vly, finish recon late finish, need a bigger drill
20 Wed TM to Pearse Valley, Pringle to SB; short recon walk around Lake House end of PV Pearse Vly much warmer
21 Thu PV, NW&CC dig 5 pit; CA&WD recon late dinner at 10:30pm
22 Fri PV, NW,WD&CC core one pit,CA recon Lake House area late dinner at 10:45pm
23 Sat PV, core and OSL sample another pit, dig 3 more pits windy and cold evening
24 Sun PV, recon of dunes, CC to Lake Joyce & Taylor glacier tongue late dinner at 11pm
25 Mon PV, NW&WD OSL sampling at dunes; CA&CC dig pits cold evening −16C
26 Tue PV, CA,CA&CC core + sample third pit, NW petrography@camp dinner at 10pm
27 Wed PV, CA&WD further recon, NW&CC OSL sampling; DV visit @2pm Helo move confirmed
28 Thu PV, walk to Lake Joyce Taylor glacier tongue, dig more pits confusion about helo sched
29 Fri PV to Vic Vly for CA, NW & WD; DN, HM, DW SB to VV; CC to SB just made it to SB,weather bad
30 Sat VV, rec, interviews by DW early start
1 DEC VV,recon walk to the dunes, DV visit @3:45pm, sieving of samples DW retro SB with DV's
2 Mon VV, surveying, pit digging and drilling at the dunes
3 Tue VV, GPS survey of dunes, check and relocation of weather stations
4 Wed VV, recon of Victoria glacier tongue, collect samples form sediment traps
5 Thu VV, OSL sampling and surveying
6 Fri VV, NW completed GPS survey of dunes, weather stations relocated
7 Sat VV, rest of the surveys completed, filming at Packard Glacier,visit Lake Vida Packard Stm flowing
8 Sun VV, OSL and ice samples from Victoria glacier
9 Mon VV to SB NW DN 1st helo & WD, CA, HM on 2end;10a start Endura tent difficult to pack
10 Tue SB, cleaning, sorting & packing of field equipment
11Wed SB to ChCh-WD,HM,DN & CC Av Wgtn 8ppage 3
12 Thu SB to ChCh CA
13 Fri SB to ChCh NW


Figure 1. Topographic map of Table Mountain.

Figure 1. Topographic map of Table Mountain.

The Table Mountain camp (fig. 1) was located on a small patch of snow at (altitude 1850m; S77°57.631′ E161°57.324′) and was selected for the snow patch and close location to the temperature probes. Winds during the field visit were mostly between 10 and 30 knots with gusts up to 40 knots.

The Pearse Valley camp (fig. 2) was on an alluvial terrace located at the eastern edge of Lake House (325m; S77°42.101′ E161°26.924′) and was selected for its proximity to a source of water (Schlatter glacier). Wind direction and strength seems highly variable throughout the valley and diurnal variations were common. During the field visit, winds did not exceed 20 knots and seemed strongest from 2 – 5 am.

The Victoria Valley camp (fig. 3) was located on an alluvial terrace derived from meltwater off the Packard glacier and situated adjacent the dune field (400m; S77°22.082′ E162°12.720′). It was selected because of its flat nature and close proximity to the working environment. There was little snow around so water had to be obtained from the Packard glacier, a short walk up Packard Creek. The majority of winds were easterly or down valley with a few periods of stronger, reversed directional westerly winds.

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Figure 2. Topographic map of Pearse Valley.

Figure 2. Topographic map of Pearse Valley.

Figure 3. Topographic map of sand dunes at Victoria Valley.

Figure 3. Topographic map of sand dunes at Victoria Valley.


For most days in the field the weather was generally good. Field movements by helicopter were not constrained by the weather although it was a close call for the movement scheduled on 29 November. Field work was not restricted due to weather conditions at any time. Temperatures at Table Mountain ranged from −20°C at night to −12°C during warmer days but strong wind chill occasionally caused temperatures down to −30°C. Pearse Valley was warmer with temperatures ranging mostly from −8°C to −4°C with a few nights of −14°C. Victoria Valley was colder again with –8°C to –12°C but warmed up to –1°C with the arrival of winds of up to 25 knots in the last few days.


There were no accidents or incidents during this field season.

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VHF radio communications at each of the valley campsites was extremely limited. At Table Mountain the VHF high-gain aerial worked in selected places and in Pearse Valley there was no VHF reception from Scott Base at the camp. Communication in Pearse Valley was possible only with the HF 'butterbox' with a very poor reception or by climbing .5 hr to a suitably high location.

Field operations in Antarctica now require reliable and quick communications with Scott Base. Because of this, I strongly recommend that satellite phones be provided to field parties that are out of VHF radio contact.


*Sites Visited

Site name Table Mountain
Site location S77 57.631′ E161 57.324′
Dates occupied 16 - 19 Nov 2002
Total days (or hours) at site 4
Maximum number of people at site 5
Total person-days (or person-hours) at site 20
Main activity undertaken Repair/programme temp probes, recon, soil sampling and description
Site name Lake House (Pearse Valley proper)
Site location S77 42.101′ E161 26.924′
Dates occupied 20-28 Nov 2002
Total days (or hours) at site 9
Maximum number of people at site 4 + DV visitors
Total person-days (or person-hours) at site 36
Main activity undertaken Recon, soil sampling and ice core extraction
Site name Victoria Valley
Site location S77°57.011′ E161°59.350′
Dates occupied 29 Nov - 9 Dec 2002
Total days (or hours) at site 11
Maximum number of people at site 6 + DV visitors
Total person-days (or person-hours) at site 58
Main activity undertaken Recon, soil & ice sampling, GPS surveys, weather observations
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Geological Material

Pit and sample locations - for more detail, see table of samples in Scientific Report

Table Mtn and Pearse Valley

Name and Location of Pit/Drillhole/Sample Type and approximate quantity of sample
TMCV-7 S77 58.071, E161 55.623 1 kg ice chunks
PVP-1 S 77 42.405′, E161 28.881′ 800g soil sample
PVP-2 S 77 42.168′, E161 30.340′ 75 cm ice core, 7 soil samples totalling < 3kg, 500g surface gravel
PVP-6 S77 42.274′, E161 30.257′ 75 cm ice core, 3 soil samples totalling < 1.5 kg; 500g surface gravel, 500g ice chips
PVP-16 S77 42.167′, E161 30.318′ 78 cm ice core, 500g ice chips, 2 soil samples totalling < 1kg, 500g surface gravel
PVRG-1 S77 42.259′, E161 35.062′ 1 kg ice chunks
PVRG-2 S77 42.211′, E161 35.242′ 1 kg ice chunks
Schlatter Glacier, Pearse Valley 1 kg ice chunks
Taylor Glacier/Lake Joyce tongue, Pearse Valley 2 kg ice chunks
Various locations in Pearse Valley 36 hand samples of surface lithology, totalling <10 kg

Victoria Valley

Name and Location of Sample Type and approximate quantity of sample
VV1-RB S 77 22.114′, E162 12.454′ 500g soil sample
VV-C1 S 77 22.250′, E162 12.330′ 500g soil sample
VV-C2 S 77 22.130′, E162 13.720′ 500g soil sample
VV-C3 S 77 22.323′, E162 10.713′ 500g soil sample
VV-C4 S 77 22.528′, E162 08.555′ 500g soil sample
LB-1 S 77 22.533′, E161 54.803′ 500g soil sample
LB-2 S 77 22.499′, E161 55.859′ 500g soil sample
LVG-1 S 77 22.087′, E162 17.470′ 500g soil sample
LVG-2 S 77 22.326′, E162 18.341′ 500g soil sample
Various locations in Victoria Valley 40 hand samples of surface lithology, 20 kg

Equipment installed/left in field (Table Mtn)

Type of equipment/marker installed 2 temperature probes 2 m deep
Location of installation left in field S77°57.011′ E161°59.350′ (install Table Mtn. 2000)
Size of items left in field (2 m deep in ground, 0.25m3 on surface) × 2
Number of items left in field 2 probes
Date of intended retrieval Nov 2003

*Differences from original Preliminary Environmental Evaluation (PEE)

Environmental impact from the 2002-2003 season was well within the limits of the PEE which was approved.