Our Homepage

Our Journal

Ask a Scientist


More Information

Links to Cool Stuff

Older Island to Ice Websites

Our Research Website

Current Weather at McMurdo
Click for McMurdo, Antarctica Forecast


Brought to you by



December 3rd-4th, 2013

Sampling Around Town

by Steve Sweet


Yesterday (3 Dec) we began our terrestrial sampling around McMurdo Station. We have 70 randomly chosen sites, three more intensive sampling sites (48 samples), and one control site (16 samples) to collect.  The random samples are collected to define the contaminant distribution across the footprint of the station.  The intensive sites are collected in areas of known impact to provide finer scale resolution and to determine if the contaminant field is stable with time.  The intensive sites chosen this year are the helicopter pad (sampled Sunday when there are no operations), at the old refueling station, at the new refueling station and at the facility where heavy equipment is repaired and maintained.  

  Map showing sampling sites

Yesterday was snowy with moderately strong winds coming in from the south with temperatures initially a little below freezing. Terry and Mary shared the GPS duties, while Steve and Andrew took care of recording, photographing and sampling. We began the day by collecting samples on the way to Hut Point and then up in the hills to the north of town.  These included some steep slopes some of which, were physically demanding.  We worked our way down to the old refueling station and broke for lunch.  After lunch we collected the intensive site near the heavy shop and picked up a few more sites around town.  We managed to collect 64 samples today - quite a productive day.

The view from Arrival Heights looking over the station

A snowy sampling site

Mary finding a site and Steve photographing it

Terry by the Delta named Terry at the heavy shop

An orca made from scrap iron

A memorial to Richard T. Williams, a Navy Seabee, who died near here in 1956

Wednesday (the 4th) was cold and windy at the onset so we collected some sites protected from the wind and then in the hilltops.  As the day proceeded the weather improved considerably. In the afternoon we hit the Transmission Site which is located on a hill behind the station, lucky for us the weather was improving all afternoon so it wasn’t all that unpleasant sampling.  We finished off the day with the final intensive sampling site at the new refueling station.  It was a long hard day that we managed to collect 54 samples.  Everyone was pretty exhausted after two days of physically demanding work, perhaps with the exception of Terry.

Steve and Terry grabbing sampling jars from the truck

Mary and Steve taking a break on an old couch on the cargo line

Danger is our middle name

The transmission antennae

The near the top showing Scott Base, a round satellite receiver, wind turbines, and Ob Hill

Mary in front of the wind turbines

After dinner we headed down to the Dive Locker and piled into a Pisten Bulley for our trip to the dive site, below Arrival Heights.  We performed dive tending duties for Terry and Martin for their dive below Arrival Heights.  

The sea ice below Arrival Heights

Looking across the sea ice towards Mt. Discovery

Mary resting in the dive hut