Monday, 5 March 2007

Tour of Halley ,29 knot winds & the Lunar Eclipse

I've been at Halley for just over two months know, and seeing as its my day off (yes i do get days off) i thought it might be quite nice, for you to have a little insight as to where i eat, sleep, work and play - my world.

Probably, one of the most interesting places on base, are the tunnels, which link the Laws to the Simpson (300 metres) and also the Piggott tunnels, which are separate - and i'm yet to see myself, so as soon as i do, no doubt it Will feature in my blog.

Each day starts at 9am with exactly the same routine, those on the melt tank rota go off and dig the snow and ice for the whole base's water supply. It was on a routine dig that i got involved (on another of my days off) to take photos of the guys digging. I snapped a few snaps, picked up a pick axe, dug a few chunks, barely broke a sweat and then the suspicions of the pipe being blocked were quickly deciphered. There are special techniques that winterers pass on from generation to generation, regarding constant monitoring of the melt tank pipe for blockages. The pipe, 12 inches in diameter, runs approx 27 metres down under the ice to a chamber approx 2.5 metres high and 2 metres across, which is linked to the tunnels, creating a depth of nearly 30 metres in total. Whilst at the opening hatch of the melt tank, before, during and after any digging, the special blockage testing training is given. Grab a lump of hard ice roughly the size of a rugby ball and proceed to drop it down the pipe shaft. If it makes 2 bangs and a splosh, all is ok, if not, oh dear, the hassle of climbing down the individual hatches, each 2.5 metres high and starting from the bottom, unblocking all the way up, is a hassle you don't need, on top of your usual work load.

In all weathers, ice has to be dug on a daily basis, for all aspects of our water supply.

Snow inside the 1st hatch, after a week of snow blowing.

Welcome to Narnia.

This is just 1 of 7 chambers, with a averaging temperature of minus 9 degrees, inside.

It was my job as a Structural Engineering Surveyor to assist James the Chippy, in recording the tunnel temperatures.

The melt tank at the bottom of the chamber and the buckled re-enforced steel tunnel, being crushed by the ice.

Timbers being crippled and sandwiched by the sheer force of the ice above.

Entrance to the Flubbers. Huge bags of fuel each containing 2o,ooo litres Avtur, which is used to fuel the generators in the laws.

Monitoring the tunnels temperatures, is an important part of their upkeep. As past experience has shown from BAS's previous bases, being lost under crushing ice. This proves a delicate balance of temperature monitoring, as the tunnels temperature is around minus 8 degrees, but the melt tank is around 20 degrees. Too warm and the tunnels will collapse under the weight of shifting thawing ice, too cold and the dug ice for the melt tank, won't defrost.

The Laws, hand lines and buried vehicles, in 29 knot winds.

Learning new skills, this time as a quantity surveyor. Measuring the legs of the Laws, to see which legs are sinking deeper into the ice, which need raising or leveling and also a certain level has to be maintained so that snow drifts and wind scoops are minimised from the laws building. Thus preventing, to an extent, an unnatural ice feature developing from the buildings in Antarctica.

Me and James leveling the legs of the laws.

March was already proving to be an exciting month, with winter trips already under way, but also for the chance of seeing the Lunar Eclipse of the moon, which is when the sun's rays hit the Earth, causing a shadow (eclipse) over the moon. This would take place on the 3rd of March 07.

Towards the end of the Eclipse, a partially shadowed moon with visible valley craters and meteor scars, signalling the start of the wintering night skies.


zoe said...

heya ant really good to see you on video george wants to be where you are says it looks good. dad gave us the hats and tshirt we aslo got your post card we really enjoy looking at your blog and wondering what adventures you have had. take care love zoe and co x x x

Mr Biggs said...

hey Ant really good picture in black and white with the axe. could be an advert for abercrombie and fitch!!!!! Quality

Karl said...

Good to see you're getting on ok down there. Looks a bit nippy though.

Anonymous said...

Hey up Ant, how you gettin on? I've unfortunatly gotta go back to work this week :( atleast its not work down there!!! say hello to everyone from me!


p.s the cow is enjoying being back in england but wants to see its mum again!!

Hartmut said...

nice tour, thanks for that