Although you're on your way home (and probably arrived by now), just want to let you know through your PolarTREC Journal postings, that it's been very educational having participated and browsing through your writings and pics. You added a lot of value, not only to the endeavors at the IceCube, but also to all of us who have participated, one way or another. My sincere appreciation and highest commendation of your work and dedication. You have raised the bar and have set an admirable example. See you real soon. All the best!
23 January 2015 Photo shoot near Mt. Erebus and meeting with PolarTREC teacher Yamini Bala
Today we were blessed with an absolutely beautiful day. The sky was crystal clear with an intense blue, and the Sun was shining as brightly as it is possible from Antarctica. Temperature was near freezing, but with the Sun and the calm air the weather felt incredibly mild.
I started my day bright and early with a visit to Crary Labs here in McMurdo. Crary Labs—itself one of the main buildings at the station—is where most of the science is done, and it features an impressive number of exhibits relating to Antarctica.
My visit to Crary was to attend a PolarConnect event with Yamini Bala, a fellow PolarTREC teacher who is also staying at McMurdo. Yamini had just come back from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide here in Antarctica, where she studied the microstructure of ice crystals together with other members of the "VeLveT Ice" team. She did an awesome job at explaining what the science and research at WAIS Divide were, which made for a unique learning experience. I also had the pleasure to meet her researcher, glaciologist Dr. Erin Pettit, as well as other members of the team. Yamini's PolarTREC journal is available from the following address: http://www.polartrec.com/expeditions/west-antarctic-ice-sheet-microstruc...
Around 2:00 pm and taking advantage that the Sun had just passed the meridian and attained its maximum elevation of 32°, I went out and walked down the road in order to obtain a better view of Mt. Erebus. Along the way—an easy, 45-minute walk—I saw a number of South polar skuas (Stercorarius maccormicki) flying high above the road. These birds are a common sight along the Antarctic coast, as they feed on the abundant fish in the surrounding sea.
The road climbs steadily and reaches a high point about two thirds of the way from the US McMurdo Station to New Zealand's Scott Base, and the panorama that spreads out from South to West is absolutely impressive. When the sky is clear as it was today, White Island can be seen very prominently (due south) just across the Ross Ice Shelf, with Black Island to the right. Mt. Discovery—an isolated volcano that is located about 70 kilometers to the southwest—and the Brown Peninsula are also easily seen further to the right.
As explained, I was wanting to get a full view of Mt. Erebus. The volcano—itself the most prominent natural feature of Ross Island—cannot be seen from McMurdo proper due to nearby hills blocking the view. Its summit is visible from the top of Observation Hill, but a better view is obtained from the eastern side of the Point Hut peninsula, just outside of Scott Base.
As I continued my walk the road came to a quick descent and I reached the outskirts of Scott Base. I looked north and was treated to an amazing view of Mt. Erebus. There was a plume of smoke above the volcano that, because of the permanent lava lake that sits inside the caldera, is a rather common occurrence. But for me it was absolutely noteworthy, as never before in my life I had seen smoke coming out from a volcano.
I was also able to get a magnificent view of Mt. Terror, another of Ross Island's volcanoes, although it is thought to be either dormant or extinct. Preliminary studies of rocks around Mt. Terror show no signs of volcanic activity within the last million years.
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Yes, I am on my way home and will arrive there in the next 24-36 hours. I am glad to know that my PolarTREC journals have been helpful, even valuable. I have shared my story with you all, but upon my return I will be sharing yet more details, pictures and stories. Again, thank you for your support and for being an active participant here. Take care, Rubén, and see you soon!
We absolutely agree with Ruben Miranda! While you are coming home at Puerto Rico, we thank you a lot for your valuable and amazing story, we followed every day (often two times a day...).
I'm sure you made a great contribution to students' AND other people's interest in, and knowledge about, science.
Your students can be really proud : they have a great teacher and educator with a lot of enthusiasm and writingqualities!
We wish you all the best and are looking forward to read your next stories !
Wow, thank you for those words, Anne! As always, I appreciate your support and good wishes. I was surprised when I was told that a number of my own secondary school students are actually considering applying for opportunities such as 'Girls on Ice'. One of my goals from the beginning was to help these young men and women develop an interest in science and polar exploration, so it seems like the main objective is starting to get fulfilled.
I safely arrived home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on January 26 and will be posting one final journal entry within the next few hours. And it was a pleasure working with Sam, your son. We both laboring together at those IceTop stations, doing snow measurements out in the field with those chilly –30 °C temperatures, was a neat experience that will not be forgotten. He also took the time to explain what he was doing and to share his technical expertise with me.
Stay tuned, as PolarTREC will continue to publish updates on my future education and outreach activities here in the island. Thanks again, and all the best!