Today the ice closed in on the vertical chamber completely and in a last moment Ben attempted to get some data on the closure rate. He found a curved section of ice and repeated diameter measurements over a period of several hours. It is amazing in the short amount of time how much the ice actually can move. The pressure of 600 feet of solid ice really amazes me, I cannot even imagine what the rock under glaciers thousands of meter thick must feel. It is no wonder that valleys are carved throughout the world this way, glaciers have a tremendous influence on the shape of continents. Later in the day I help out with the accelerometers. After testing it appears two of them are not recording correctly. A closer inspection shows that when we lowered the cables through the granite we neglected to cover the USB computer ends. Since there was a battery installed already and the USB cord had power, we unfortunately created a conduction path between two electrodes. This caused a deposit of copper oxide on the leads due to the moisture that got in and fried the unit. Two weeks of work here and one silly mistake of not covering the leads from water! Mark brought along a couple of spares and we solder the leads in the tunnel... and after some work, one of the accelerometers becomes functional. There is still a problem with a very expensive accelerometer that appears to have stopped working. Pete is working on this. We are not sure if it is the unit or some wiring issues.
As the ice closes in it forms amazing sculptures.
The ice arc that Ben is measuring is only about four feet in diameter, barely enough room for him to move around in.
After weeks of hard work both in the lab in Iowa and out here under the Svartisen glacier, it comes down to data... and of the four accelerometers two are not functioning... all because the leads were powered up and dropped in water... fortunately one can be saved.
The ice has completely closed and there is no way to check on the vertical chamber anymore.
In the afternoon Miriam wants to practice a fire drill. NVE has worked hard this year making the tunnel safe, and the new system still has some bugs to work out. Some of us are sent up the tunnel to the ice and wait for the flashing red light... it arrives a few minutes after the fire alarm is set.. a small problem! Then it is off to the safe room, it is here where we are supposed to gather with our oxygen tanks. The room has a compressed air tank inside that keeps the air pressure inside higher than the outside so that no smoke gets inside.
We gather in the safe room for the fire drill, here there is a tank to overpressure the room and keep smoke out while you prepare to exit with oxygen tanks.
Pete has only fifteen minutes of oxygen now. He can barely speak or see and has to hold his miners lamp the entire way out the tunnel.
[With only fifteen minutes of oxygen, you must somehow make it out a one mile tunnel that you could imagine full with smoke.... it takes us about 12 minutes to make the walk without smoke. At the last thirty seconds the mask makes a high pitch sound to warn you that the air is finished.
Outside the tunnel safely. You have a bag of emergency goodies including chocolate bars....
The difference between being in the tunnel all day and outside is similar to having an office job in a basement with no windows. When you step outside you realize life's beauty.
The days are slowing now as there is little to do but wait for the ice to reform in the tunnel.
Above me is six hundred feet of ice. I am in a tight spot just for the fun of it.