WISSARD Updates

January 27th, 2013

Drilling continued on 25 and 26 January. The drill encoder indicated a depth of 796 m in the early hours of 26 January. The drill was left at this depth for several hours to enlarge borehole diameter in this region. The drill was then pulled from the hole at about 0400 h (26 January) and the mothership team began preparing to deploy this tool to provide a live video feed of the borehole to the surface. The mothership was deployed at 0555 h (26 January) with the borehole return pump and power cable still in the borehole, which posed an obstacle to deployment. The drillers adjusted the return pump lines and the mothership was successfully deployed at 0805 h. The tool was lowered at a rate of 10 to 20 m/minute. As the mothership camera reached 690 m we observed that the latest drill deployment formed a deviation from the main borehole. It was clear that this situation would compromise deployment of borehole science tools so we decided to melt in this region for several hours, hoping that this would coalesce the two holes (melt the two holes together). Borehole water level sensor revealed that the lake has not been penetrated. Reaming in the region near 690 m continued throughout the day and the mothership was again deployed at ~1700 h on 26 January and revealed that the deviation remained at ~ 690 m. The drill was lowered once again to ream the borehole below 690 m and continue deepening of the hole. At 0804 h on 27 January the water level in the borehole rose rapidly from 110 m to about 80 m, with the latter being the estimated equilibrium water head in the lake based on available ice and firn thickness data. At the same time, the load cell showed a drop of 100 pounds. Both real-time sensor readings are consistent with connecting the borehole to Subglacial Lake Whillans. Initial estimates imply that the ice is 801 m thick above the lake, which agrees very well with the prior estimate based on seismic imaging (802m) published by Horgan et al. (2011). The drillers will continue to ream the hole throughout the day. We plan to deploy the mothership on the evening of 27 January to verify that the lake was penetrated, determine if the borehole diameter is appropriate for tool deployment, measure the thickness of the ice over the lake, and measure the depth of the lake.

 

January 26th 2013

The drill team is still in full drilling mode, working on completing the borehole to Subglacial Lake Whillans. The field team continues to work hard, most of the team has moved to 12 hour shifts working 24 hours a day. The weather at the Lake is holding and not impeding drilling operations. The science teams are preping instruments for clean access to the lake. The McMurdo crew has been unable to meet the team in the field, and is working on end of season preparations in McMurdo.

 

January 25th 2013

Excitement is in the air as we are attempting to drill into a subglacial lake using clean access drilling. Drilling is going ahead of schedule and the WISSARD team is working hard at the Subglacial Lake Whillans (SLW) field camp/drill site. If everything stays on track, they expect to penetrate the Lake tonight and start scientific sampling in the early morning hours. The drill team reached 700 meters last night at 3 am, and sent a camera down to inspect the borehole. The hole looks good, more than 30 cm in diameter. Drillers will drill rapidly (~0.5 m/min) for the next 50 m then slow down for the final 50 m. They hope to enter the lake around 6 PM local time, then ream to a 61cm diameter until around 1 AM. The first science sampling will begin at 2 AM if all goes well.

 

January 21st, 2013

The weather Gods are with us after days of weather delays!! Two planes left for the lake early Monday morning, McMurdo time, filled with personnel and cargo. If the weather holds, the majority of remaining personnel will head to the lake tomorrow and the following day. The logistics crew, traverse personnel, and first wave of drillers have made good progress at the site, setting up the field camp, grooming the runways, configuring the drilling platform, the drill, and the science labs. We are cautiously optimistic that we can stick to our sampling field schedule if the weather holds.

 

January 15th, 2013

**While the traverse team has made it to the lake, the scientists have not made it out of McMurdo Station due to 3 days of weather delays....sampling protocols and sceince timelines have been reviewed, and scientists and drillers are ready, as we wait to get to the lake.**

Another milestone has been achieved, the WISSARD traverse team has reached the lake!! WISSARD momentum is building as the deep field science and drill teams prepare for deployment. The first drill team flies to the lake tomorrow.  Members of C-522-M (RAGES; R. Powell, lead) have recently returned to McMurdo for field operations and have worked on data analysis for proving instrumentation after the McMurdo Ice Shelf testing, and then getting the instruments readied for lake deployment. The biology team (GBASE; C-523-M; J. Priscu, lead) has completed analyses from their recent MIS testing of the new ‘clean access’ hot water drilling system. This test demonstrated that the WISSARD drill successfully meets the environmental code of conduct established for clean access into Antarctic subglacial aquatic environments. The GPS team led by S. Tulaczyk (LISSARD; C-521-M) is currently on weather hold but hopes to deploy soon and meet the WISSARD traverse at the Lake Whillans Camp. Tulaczyk’s team will conduct survey work at the Whillans grounding line and, importantly, will confirm and then mark the spot where we will drill into the lake. This location was selected based on seismic and radar surveys from previous seasons and represents one of the deepest portions of Subglacial Lake Whillans.

 

January 8th, 2012

Science Update:

The GPS Team (Tulaczyk C-521-M) is preparing for deep field deployment; currently weather is delaying their cargo put-in.

The remainder of the SLW team continues to optimize field plans. This largely involves getting our field gear, sampling supplies and instruments into the science cargo system and working out fixed-wing details.

An operations meeting was held yesterday with NSF and ASC to review the SLW logistics plan and bring on-station support staff up to speed on our progress. Our plan was well received and everyone is motivated moving forward.

Traverse Update: January 7th

The traverse has passed the halfway mark on its way to Subglacial Lake Whillans. The team made 71.8 miles of progress, with 278.2 miles to go. The traverse team is optimistic they will reach SLW by weeks end.

Outreach  Update:

Thirty hours of film footage has been collected thanks to the efforts of Dave Monk and ASC videographer Ralph Maestas.  Footage will be edited and shared through a variety of products and mediums.

WISSARD teacher Betty Trummel continues to write daily blog posts about the project; www.scienceroadshow.wordpress.com. Additional blogs about the project are located on the WISSARD webpage/blogs and will be highlighted individually in daily reports.

Weather

A dust storm at McMurdo, combined with a few warm sunny days has degraded the surface of the McMurdo roads and run/ski ways. This has caused problems for surface vehicles and aircraft and has slowed the movement of cargo and people.

 

 

 

 

 

January 7th, 2013

WISSARD Traverse Update: January 7th.
The traverse has passed the halfway mark on its way to Subglacial Lake Whillans. The team made 71.8 miles of progress, with 278.2 miles to go.
Check out a blog post about the traverse written by Betty Trummel a member of the WISSARD Education and Outreach team...http://scienceroadshow.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/we-pull-for-science-a-tr...

WISSARD Traverse Update: January 6th.
The traverse made great progress today, gaining 75.7 miles with no stops for repairs. The PDM fared well after a long day of travel, and the traverse team projects continued progress.
349.3 miles to go...

WISSARD Traverse Update: January 5th.
After making good progress yesterday, the traverse slowed for repairs on the 5th. The Power Distribution Module (PDM) has developed cracks as it rests on the sled kit, and the traverse crew stopped to make welding repairs. They decided to switch sleds to mitigate further wear and tear. The crew used three CAT Cranes in the field to place the PDM on a solid platformed Lehman sled, and the Northern Illinois University Central Control Unit on the ISO kit.
The traverse crew is optimistic that they will reach Subglacial Lake Whillans by the end of the week, barring any additional repair delays, keeping the project on schedule for deep field operations.

WISSARD Traverse Update: January 4th.
The traverse continues with 62.5 miles gained and 424.5 miles to go. Routine tractor and sled maintenance were accomplished as good weather prevails.

WISSARD Traverse Update January 2nd
No mileage gained today as some of the WISSARD modules needed welding repairs; and adjustments were made to load configurations on the line.

WISSARD Traverse Update January 1st, 39.2 miles travelled, 539.8 to go.

Traverse Update: Since departing late on Sunday they have made it through the shear zone without any large problems, but have had to do some welding repairs on some of the sleds, and thus have not made any large mileages yet. Tenative arrival date at SLW is January 14th.

WISSARDS were busy with deep field preparations, borehole timeline schedules, crevasse training, and experimental design set up.

 

December 30th, 2012

WISSARDS were busy today. This morning the deep field seismic group organized their food cache for a month in the field, packing and getting it ready to ship. WISSARD's mobilized to wish the traverse team well as they left for the approximate 12 day journey to Subglacial Lake Whillans. Members of the WISSARD group from Santa Cruz, San Diego and Aberystwyth arrived. Scientists are working on deep field preparations, conducting microbial experiments, and analyzing data from the WISSARD test site.

 

December 25th, 2012

The WISSARD's have been busy over the past couple of days packing equipment and preparing for the traverse to Subglacial Lake Whillans, a 611 mile trip from McMurdo (see the maps posted in the Press Kit, on the top right of the home page). We moved equipment from the labs at McMurdo to stage for the traverse, and we are packing up the field labs and equipment at the test site. The drillers are putting in extra effort on Chrismas Day to make sure equipment is ready to go; and lead scientist, Ross Powell should have his extensive instrumentation ready to go today as well--a great Christmas present for sure! We will continue preparing for the traverse tomorrow and Thursday. We hope begin the traverse by the end of this week.

 

December 21th, 2012

WISSARD activities at the WISSARD test site

Work at the WISSARD test site continued today.

The borehole was reamed during the morning hours and the hole was enlarged.The geothermal probe was deployed. The probe successfully penetrated the sea floor to the depth of ~1.5 meters. Due to time constraints, the thermistors were not deployed in a second test, but sediment was recovered (and sampled) from the probe.

Troubleshooting continued on the percussion corer. It was determined that the hydraulic motor stopped functioning. It was discovered that water had infiltrated the oil-filled electronics can and had caused the motor wires to shut down. The point of water ingress was determined and fixed. The corer was prepared for traversing to deploy in Subglacial Lake Whillans.

Niskin bottles, the in situ water sampler, and the Micro Subglacial Lake Exploration Device will be deployed and tested December 22nd, the last full day of field testing at the WISSARD test site.

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