Research Update

    Today we collected samples around McMurdo Station. It was warm and sunny, so being outside and collecting sediment samples was a pleasure. In the morning our team sampled an area near Arrival Heights, where we had a great view of McMurdo Station below. After lunch we collected more samples in and around McMurdo Station and we even collected samples at the helicopter pad after dinner. Today was a little sad though, because unless my plane gets delayed tomorrow, I will leave my research team and head back home.

    Sampling above McMurdo
    From left to right, Steve Sweet, Terry Palmer and Andrew Klein look at McMurdo Station below while collecting sediment samples.

    The Art of SamplingSampling refers to the process of selecting units or portions of a larger group that will be studied in order to answer questions about the larger group. The units can be people, water samples, ice cores, or any other appropriate object. Participants will explore the meaning of sampling and how it impacts experimental design and explore factors that define and limit sampling in the variety of projects visited during the expedition. They will consider how results from the chosen samples are used to describe the bigger target of a project's study.

    When we collect sediment samples, the locations are chosen for an intensive sampling location or at random. Intensive sampling locations are chosen based on areas where there have been high human impacts. Within these locations, the specific sampling sites are randomly generated by a computer. Random samples are selected by placing a hexagonal grid over a map of McMurdo Station. A computer software program then randomly selects 70 of those hexagons for us to collect samples in.

    Andrew and computer
    Andrew Klein looks at marked hexagons on a map which show areas to randomly sample.

    This morning we collected 17 random samples around McMurdo Station and 20 random samples in the afternoon. We also collected samples in three intensive areas: the vehicle maintenance area, the old re-fueling station and the helicopter pad. We collect 16 samples at each intensive area, so we ended up with lots of jars of dirt!

    Tire track and sample
    A tire track is found at the exact latitude and longitude of our sampling site near the Vehicle Maintenance building.

    Critical Thinking

    What human impacts might we find in the sediment samples at the intensive sites (vehicle maintenance area and old re-fueling station)? What types of pollutants would you expect to find in our samples?

    Math Connection

    How many total samples did we collect today?

    One Last Team Photo

    Today's sampling collection was bittersweet for me. It is likely that I will be flying to New Zealand tomorrow, and then back home. This will be my last full day out with the team! We took one last team photo by the McMurdo Station sign before collecting samples in the afternoon.

    Team B518
    Team B518 poses by the new McMurdo Station sign for one last team photo.

    Carl, a 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. Pro!

    Today was a big sampling day for all of us, but Carl had an especially busy day. Carl wore 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. backpack all day and led the way to all the sampling sites. 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. backpack communicates with satellites to direct us to the exact latitude and longitude of sampling locations. Often times Carl would have to scramble up or down steep hills to find the right location. Although our team would follow Carl to photograph the sampling site, measure soil depth and slope, and collect the sediment sample, we were able to wait until he found the best route to the site. Luckily, Carl is an expert at using 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., as well as a good hiker!

    Carl with GPS
    Carl stands with the GPS in the foreground after a tricky traverse down a hill, while Andrew, Steve and Terry watch from above.

    Packing up Soil

    After a big day of sediment sampling, we packed up the jars so they are ready to be shipped back to Texas where they will be analyzed for contamination. The jars are packed in bubble wrap to keep them from breaking. They are also kept frozen to prevent contamination from chemically breaking down before being analyzed.

    Michelle and Steve
    Steve Sweet wraps sediment samples in bubble wrap before putting them in the freezer. Michelle Brown helps too!

    Life in Antarctica

    While collecting samples today, I came across more art and humor from around McMurdo Station to share.

    Sculpture of fish
    A sculpture of a fish can be found on the side of the hill near Winter Quarters Bay, made from chains and other metal.

    Stop Hammer Time
    A "Hammer Time" sticker turns a stop sign into a reference to music from the 90s.

    Ice Picture of the Day

    Today's Ice POD comes from a great view we had of Mt. Erebus! Learn more about Ross Island's active volcano here. To download a PowerPoint slide of today's Ice POD, click here: 23_icepod.pptx

    Ice Picture of the Day, day 23
    Mt. Erebus is featured in today's Ice POD.

    Brought to you by...

    Today's journal is brought to you by a student from Corl Street Elementary School in State College, PA.

    Brought to you by a student from Corl Street Elementary School.
    Today's journal was brought to you by a student from Corl Street Elementary School in State College, PA.

    McMurdo Station
    Weather Summary
    Clear and Sunny
    30 F
    Wind Speed
    5 knots
    Wind Chill
    24 F
    Attachment Size
    23_icepod.pptx159.25 KB 159.25 KB


    Gizzelle green

    I am such a proud mother. Loved that picture of him which has now been shared countless times.

    Michelle Brown

    status: 1Hi Gizzelle, Carl is doing such a great job here! You should be proud!

    Zoe Currall

    On the last picture, who was going into the dive hole?

    Zoe Currall

    That's cool with the STOP sign. I have two questions. 1: Who put the sticker there? 2: What is the song?

    Zoe Currall

    The ice POD is cool! But what is a volcano doing in Antartica? : )

    Michelle Brown

    status: 1Hi Zoe,
    The penguin picture was taken in a dive hole! It was from a few weeks ago
    when Terry and the divers were collecting sediment samples. I'm impressed
    you caught that detail!

    Michelle Brown

    status: 1Hi Zoe,
    I'm not sure who put the sticker on the sign, but it is from an M.C. Hammer


    Has there been any injuries with you or your crew while being in Antarctica ( like frostbite or something)


    and what is the likely hood of being injured

    Emma Bosquez

    How do you live in the cold ?? From Emma

    Mariagracia Ferrer

    What is the biggest animal you have studied?

    Ariel Marie delcerda

    Afternoon, I have two questions spring is there a lot of Grass or Planets?
    2. When you collect sediment Do u pick off stuff of the grown?


    In Antarctica how are you able to me in the freezing cold like is it just like a normal city in Antarctica or no

    Michelle Brown

    status: 1Dear Ethan,
    I am relieved to report that no one has been injured in our research
    group! Before you get frostbite, there are warning signs--your skin
    starts to tingle and turn white. This helps us make sure we do not get
    frostbitten (if you feel tingling, you should stop and warm up, and we
    say something to each other if we notice their skin turning white). To
    answer your other question--if anyone has been injured in Antarctica,
    sadly, the answer is yes. Occasionally people have returned home early
    due to injuries. In fact, while I was in McMurdo Station a member of a
    research team hurt his leg after falling on a hike up the hill to
    Crary Lab. He had to go home due to the injury. Worst injuries and
    even deaths have also occurred, although they are very rare. Because
    of the dangers of being in such an extreme environment, we go through
    many trainings to ensure we know how to be safe and what to do in case
    something dangerous occurs.

    Michelle Brown

    status: 1Dear Emma,
    Although it is cold in McMurdo Station and Antarctica, we are given
    lots of warm clothes to stay warm. In most of the photos of me, I'm
    not even wearing the warmest layer--the big red coat that is provided
    to me. That's because I wear long underwear, a layer over that, and a
    coat. Often we are so active that I get warm too. We also aren't
    outside all day--sometimes we have a shelter that we can warm up in.
    Lastly, as we reach December, the summer season gets warmer and
    warmer. When I left Antarctica it was in the high 20s, which although
    might sound cold, is quite warm!

    Michelle Brown

    status: 1Dear Mariagracia,
    My research team looks at contamination in sediment, so we do not get
    to spend a lot of time with organisms. That being said, we do study
    the pollution levels found in organisms along the seafloor, so I would
    say that sea stars are the largest sea organisms we have looked at. We
    also get to be near other organisms. Weddell Seals are the largest
    animals I have seen here in Antarctica. They are quite fascinating!

    Michelle Brown

    status: 1Dear Ariel,
    Thank you for your thoughtful questions! There actually is NO grass or
    plants on land in Antarctica! The only thing we have are fossils of
    plants from thousands and thousands of years ago when Antarctica was
    in a lower latitude (and it was warmer) There is algae that lives in
    the ocean though. When we collect our sediment samples, we find the
    set location and simply scoop up sediment from a small area there. We
    focus on sediment, not other objects (like trash). On the seafloor we
    collect sediment using a tube. Thank you again--I hope that answers
    your questions!

    Michelle Brown

    status: 1Hi Jeremiah,

    We are able to survive in the freezing cold by wearing lots of layers.
    We also are quite active, hiking a lot, which keeps us warm. Lastly,
    we get to sleep in warm dorm rooms and usually have heated shelters we
    can rely on. Antarctica is an interesting place. I was in McMurdo
    Station, which is the biggest station on the continent. It did feel
    like a small town in many ways--there were roads, lots of people, and
    over 100 structures (some were small, but there were different
    buildings). In many ways, however, it did not feel like a town--we all
    ate in the same place, there were lots of rules that you don't have to
    follow in a town (e.g., strict recycling), and there were no children
    or pets.