Celebrating and Waiting to Redeploy

    On Friday we had our last expedition to Miers Valley. This trip had been rescheduled several times due to weather and that morning it did not look promising. It was the coldest we had had in several weeks and the wind was biting. To our surprise, in the Dry Valleys it was a beautiful, calm, sunny day. We we downloaded and serviced the data logger - replacing batteries and checking connections. Our next task was to collect the samples and make some repairs to a sediment trap in the valley. We had the GPSA Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system used to track the location or position of objects on the Earth’s surface. coordinates and searched the valley for an hour, trying to find the thing. Our amazing helo pilot even took us on an extra turn around the lake to find it. Well. At some point you have to agree that it's just gone.

    Meredith and Jesse servicing the datalogger
    Meredith and Jesse servicing the datalogger

    The end of the field season gave us a chance to reflect on our goals, challenges, and successes of the year. The Wormherders had a fantastic summer in the Dry Valleys and, except for one missing sediment trap, got everything done and more. Last night we found one last time to sit together for dinner and celebrate our accomplishments. Dr. Byron Adams, the principal investigator of the project (PI), was awarded the prestigious "Golden Beaker" award. This award is given to the PI who runs the smoothest research program with the fewest hiccups and lowest team anxiety. The award recognizes PIs for their team's leadership, motivation, science achievements and ability to stay in the good graces of support staff. Congratulations to Byron.

    Byron Adams accepts 2023 Golden Beaker Award
    Byron Adams accepts 2023 Golden Beaker Award.

    This was also the official Paper Bag award ceremony where each team member received an award for their achievements and contributions to the Wormherders. Meredith very thoughtfully created these awards with her ZERO spare time. I won the prestigious "Most Likely to Argue about Pumpkin Soup" and "Best one-liners award". Recognizing accomplishments and contributions is important to the growth and unity of a team.

    Paper Bag award designed by Meredith
    Paper Bag award designed by Meredith.

    After finding some duplicated and deleted data in the spreadsheets earlier, Ariel and Byron recognized my contribution with the 100% Proof medal. I will cherish it always and use it as a reminder to always check for duplicate entries.

    100% Proof Award
    100% Proof Award.

    Play Wormherder!

    A couple people asked what we do all day in the lab. In the geo-chem lab they are running samples for chemical analysis later. In the biology side we are looking at life. I tried to make a video of a soil sample biological analysis (also known as counting worms). It is hard to keep the worms in focus and the field of the camera is a different ratio than the microscope. I think the video can approximate the experience of counting worms. Watch it and see if you can identify two species of nematodes, two tardigrade species, rotifers, and ciliates.

    McMurdo Station, Antarctica
    Weather Summary
    Mostly Cloudy
    Wind Speed
    NW @ 8
    Wind Chill


    Robert Busby

    Who wrote and produced the wormherder song?

    Henry Schneider

    I'm really excited to hear more about your trip when you are back.
    The dry valley looks very pretty. I'm jealous, to be honest.

    Bill Henske

    Henry- I am glad to share and I love that you are interested. There is so much in our world that has never been explored or discovered. If that is something you want to do in life, I know that you can make it happen.


    Hi, Ella here I have a question. Why are you trying to find these worms?

    Bill Henske

    Hi Ella-
    The worms can tell us about how energy and matter are moving through the ecosystem. By looking at how the number and species change over time, we can also see the affects of climate change on a whole ecosystem (because this ecosystem is pretty simple with very few total species.)

    Alex Early

    What types of rocks can you find at McMurdo? Also what geological age are most of the rocks?

    Bill Henske

    Hi Alex-
    Great question. McMurdo and Ross Island that it is on, is a series of cindercone volcanoes associated with Mt Erebus- the most southern, active volcano. Almost all the rocks around here are extrusive, igneous rocks because they formed from volcanic eruptions. These rocks are all less than 7 million years old- new by rock standards. If you go across the sound to the Transantarctic mountains you will find a huge variety of precambrian igneous rocks like granite, basalt and dolerite. You will also find sedimentary rocks like sandstones and shales. Because of all the volcanic activity and the mountain formations you will also find some cool metamorphic rocks like quartzite and marble. So there are rocks of almost every age from 650 million years ago to today.