Field and CPL Updates

2009-2010 Antarctica

January 10, 2010
Update provided by Anais Orsi
project update image
Thomas Bauska, Bess Koffman, Peter Neff, Heidi Roop, Ryan Banta, and Tommy Cox take a few minutes to warm up in the warming Jamesway. Photo: Brian Bencivengo

(PLEASE NOTE: There is a comment from Ken Taylor at the end of Anais' update)

Drilling has been very regular this week at 32m/day. We have finished packing the ice that will be shipped back to the USA in SafeCore, and started storing extra ice in the basement. The core quality remains excellent. No noteworthy ash layer this week. Ken Taylor arrived in camp on Friday, after being delayed for 4 days in McMurdo, due to McMurdo weather.

We are proud to report a very smooth drilling operation this week. The main drilling parameters have remained unchanged, as they produce long and excellent core. We stopped reaming the hole, as benefits were negligible, which saves us 10 min per run. A run takes about 2 hours to complete, and has been 3.26m long on average. We have been completing 10 runs per day, which corresponds to 32m of core, or about 365 years. The record of the longest core was broken, at 3.482m. The inclination is improving slowly, however the azimuth is not fixed yet.

We finished the week at run number 1385, or 2172m deep, 14.1kaBP (Neumann timescale). We drilled 70 runs, 232.11m (7 days of drilling).

The quality of the core is excellent overall. The diameter has been stable at 121.8mm. The only limits to core quality are some deep dog marks (from the core dogs, which catch the core on its way up) that were as deep as 1cm. We can see fractures or small chips at the run break. The length of core affected by this is never longer than 5cm.

We finished packing the ice going out this year. The last pallet is ready to get picked up. We started loading ice into the basement. We have 3 skids or 96m of core in the basement so far. There is ample room in the basement to receive all the ice we are likely to drill this year.

We have had excellent weather this week, around -12C, with 8-knot winds. However, numerous flights were canceled due to McMurdo weather.

We were scheduled for a LC-130 flight on Monday, which was postponed each day due to McMurdo weather. It finally arrived on Friday, but the plane had an issue and stayed overnight for repair. The 109th launched extra missions to fly in maintenance crew and parts. The last pallet of ice to be sent back to McMurdo is still with us. We hope that it will leave on Monday, Jan 11th. We have had 5 visits of the surveying twin otter CKB, and 2 Basler MKB flights. Ken Taylor has arrived and camp population has increased from 38 to 46 people in camp.

Rick Ward and Jenny Brower went out on the traverse to pick up the CReSIS RAM drill. CReSIS drillers (I-188) made it ready for retro. They left on Friday. Rick and Jenny left again to pick up the rest of the CReSIS crew.

Dave Ferris cooked a Middle Eastern dinner for all camp on Saturday night. We had a great party, followed the next afternoon by the third annual Olympics, featuring big red twister, frisbee, beach ball and mini golf with animatronics holes! CReSIS drillers Mike Jayred and Jim Koeller gave a talk on their fieldwork. Bo Vinther gave a talk about ice core drilling at NEEM, Greenland.

Overall, we have had a very productive week. We are excited about the few new things to come: we should have a thick ash layer around 2240m (Mt Berlin, 15kaBP). We expect a large media crew to visit us on Wednesday and Thursday, and the CReSIS traverse team should be back in WAIS by the end of the week.

Have a nice week,

Anais Orsi
Science Coordination Office Field Representative
anais.orsi.guest at


A comment from Ken Taylor:

I am very impressed by the way things are going. The camp support is great. The core quality is excellent and the production rate is reasonable. The core handling is going smoothly. All the different operations are working well together and we should end the season very close to our goal of 2,600 m. Anais is continuing her task of managing the day-to-day science operations. Krissy is head driller, and Tbird (Theresa) is camp manger, so all the lead positions are filled by women, which is a first for a deep drilling project. I am studying the whole operation looking for places where we can make improvements, making plans for next season, and working to minimize the impact of an upcoming media event.

Dave Ferris organized a raffle to raise funds for two charities in New Zealand. For prizes Dave donated the iTouch he won in the WAIS Divide outreach poster competition. Our visiting artist Anna McKee ( donated a painting that really pumped up the ticket sales. There were also many smaller prizes. Everyone bought chances to win and then a noisy and fun drawing was held. The result was a fun time and $1,200 for Christchurch charities. Such a big haul from a camp of 40 people, which is almost as much as all of McMurdo brings in with the annual Women's talent show, gives you a sense of the community at WAIS Divide.

Cheers, Ken
WAIS Divide Chief Scientist