Antarctic Expedition: Day 19/12 Print

December 19th 2014. Today we had very good atmospheric conditions. Temperatures were favourable for Antarctic standards, between -15 and -23 °C, but without wind, dry and with a lot of radiation.





Visibility was very good, so we had no problems exploring an area close to the mountains, which had a more dynamic ice flow as seen from satellite images. This is the headwater region of the Minnesota Glacier, which is moving towards the floating Ronne Ice Shelf. In the centre of this area, we can see a central flow line that is almost imperceptible in the field. We had no problems during the crossing as snow conditions were gentle and there were not many snow dunes. No cracks were seen and slopes were gentle too. We covered a total of 94 km, with just a few stops to take magnetometer measurements (static measurements are less noisy). We installed just one beacon in the place we deem to have the fastest ice speeds in this part of Antarctica.





On route, we saw the Ellsworth Mountains in all their majesty and at their feet some fields with ice cracks. Radar data obtained showed a very deep central valley that could not be completely penetrated (it was deeper than 3350 m). In the shallower margins, a rugged subglacial topography was detected, while the internal structure looked complex, with discontinuities, inflexions and amplitudes that will be difficult to understand and that require a lot of interpretation. In one area of the local ice divide, we discovered what seemed to be a return signal from the subglacial bottom that indicates the presence of water. This could be a lake or sediments embedded with water. To confirm this, we designed a new route at this site, which we will follow tomorrow.


The day drew to a close with dinner – beef with vegetables, which Chris had ready at 21:00 hrs. But having been so enthusiastic about measuring today, we didn’t stop until 22:00 hrs, which left the meal a bit dry. We will have to wait until returning to Punta Arenas to savour a tender Magallanic roast lamb…