Two days ago on Tuesday 10 January, the Rhodes Antarctic Microbiology group arrived at SANAE IV, so both teams are joining forces for the last week on the continent. On Wednesday two jobs, a reconnoissance flight to the Borga Mountains and a re-visit to Valterkulten, were completed in on one day due to a helicopter being availale to transport the teams. Because the helicopter had to be able to reach altitudes of near 3000m in the Borga Mountains, the load in the helicopter had to be reduced. This meant that Jenna, Tebogo, Karin and Sunet had to get off at Valterkulten to do some work there. It was the geomorphologists second visit there this season.
Unfortunately the altitude of Rodberg, a potential geomorphology site in the Borga, was too high for the helicopter to land. The pilots flew as close to the ground as was possible, and, while it will be a useful location in terms of investigating altitudinal and latitudinal temperature gradients, its inaccessibility means that it cannot really be used as a site that can be regularly visited. The mountain top is windswept, but does have a great deal of thermal contraction cracks, first noticed in 1951 by members of the Norwegian, British, Swedish Expedition (1949 to 1951).
Ian, Gwynneth and Nicola were then flown to Fingeren, a peak that is also in the same area, to sample a Jurassic-age dyke that owes its origin to the break-up of the Gondwana supercontinent about 150 million years ago. The sample will also be used by a group of scientists from the University of Johannesburg who are investigating the amalgamation and break-up of Gondwana. The flat moraine nearby was an ideal location for Gwynneth to collect some ground samples to identify bacteria. Even at this lover elevation the altitude was still nearly 2500m. On completion of the tasks here the helicopter re-joined the others 120km south on Valterkulen to complete a very successful and AWESOME day in the field.
#LPiAE #SANAEIV #Antarctica #2016fieldseason #AntarcticMicrobialEcology #welovetoscience! #oneweekleft