Sunday, February 6, 2011

24 Science, Wilkes and a flyover...............

Hello friends,

another week down 8-9 weeks to go before the orange ruffie AKA the Aurora Australia comes to pick us up and this week its all been science and did we get some done. Firstly lets see one of Pauls time laps videos taken from the top floor window of the red shed. Paul has been trying to get the dance of the ice bergs off Wilkes for the last couple weeks and i think this one is not too bad.

video
                                                              Video : Paul Hellerman


So now onto work....................so there has been some last minute modifications due to the amount of contamination found. You might remember when i first started telling you all about the PRB in 21 All about dirty crew.

So after digging some test pits and taking samples and running them through our GC (Gas Cartograph) it was noticed from the results that there was high levels of contamination in an area that was next to impossible to get to to as there was site services also to contend to. So the new PRB was born..............................

To dig this one i needed the big guns.........................................here is the site at the beginning.


As soon as i started to scratch the surface the smell of diesel was obvious even though the spill was more then 10 years ago...........


Along with the smell the amount of ground water was incredible, its easy to understand why this method is the most effective.............


You can now see the  shape of the PRB coming to fruition. Where you see the water is where the cage will sit and the pits on either end are where the wings will go directing the water into the cage........


 Reaching some very rock it was time to change tactics so i changed the bucket on the big excavator to a rock hammer then brought in the little excavator in to clean up the pit............


Here is the cage that all the the real work with the clean up will be taking place........


The cage relys on the fact the once put into the ground that the ground would turn into permafrost and it would direct the water through the material in the cage for this to happen the cage sits on a type of foam that insulates it from the ground...........


Placement of the cage.............


Getting it right was important............

The wings needed a little more work before we could back fill and as the rest of the contaminated material down the hill would ultimately be ripped out and put into the Bio piles we needed to build a rock wall to support the wing until the road had been replaced.


The cage and the two wings in place...............


We then needed to fill the cage with its secret herbs and spices and here is a video of Kate putting in the first bucket................

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The cage needed to be filled in stages as something called heat trace needed to be put in on a couple different levels.....................Here is Kate explaining heat trace and the lack of a coffee machine!

video

Yep soon after our arrival the coffee machine broke down. Not such a big one back home but down here the options for coffee shops is few so that single coffee machine is important. Needless to say i quickly started to go through withdrawals.

Since then we had a resupply and couple flights come over from Mcmurdo BUT in someones wisdom the coffee machine parts were put in the mail which was being held for the A319 to Wilkins. BUT as the A319 hasn't been able to land there NO COFFEE :(

Anyhoo the bottom heat trace that Dr Kate was going on about look a little like this..............


Then with a little more bucketing of the secret herbs and spices the second heat trace with the now added sensors and ports for water samples to be taken looks a little like this............


After finishing the fill of the cage it was time to back fill the trenches.  You now can see the rock wall we had to build to retain the contaminated material while we finished cleaning up the site. On that side there was a product called mega flow which is like a really wide agg pipe. On the other side of the wing we didn't have enough mega flow to put there so we needed to do something different......


So one material we had was pea gravel or 7mm agg.................It needed to direct the drainage of the contaminates through the cage so we built that wooden contraption so we could poor the pea gravel into so we back fill and have the desired drainage. So here we are filling it................


After back filling both sides and the pea gravel i pulled out the wood to leave the finished product.............


All pretty now........................

An aerial view.............


As you've seen in alot of the pics there is that little orange 5t  Hitachi excavator. Well it is a science machine purchased specifically for this job. To digress momentarily it is a tradition that all of the machines are named down here. SO remembering that the team had been scratching our heads for a suitable name for the little excavator. I had it and here is the naming ceremony...............

video

So now its time for a little history and this week i thought i would go over Wilkes. Wilkes was originally a American base set up in 1957 for the International Geophysical Year and after finishing what they wanted to gave administrative control to the Australians in Feb 1959 where they stayed for 10 years before Casey was built. To get a better idea on the history of Wilkes have a look at THIS WEB SITE....

These day Wilkes is one of the most favoured feild huts. This weekend a group including myself wanted to go there but weather wasnt playing games so im going to have to use pictures from last season to show you. So Wilkes feild hut is affectionatly know as the Wilkes Hilton and has the attire to match with robes and slippers, here is Pat, little Dave, myself and Mick..............


External pic of the hut which orrigionally was the transever and comms hut.....


An inside pic........................

Here is some of the other buildings that orrigionally were Wilkes before the upkeep of snow removal became too much for the correct running the station...............




The reminance of a Jamesway hut which currently are still used on some stations in Antarctica but none of the Australian Bases......................





The old ballon release shed................


Inside the only buildings that is still accessable which was orrigionally the Geomagnetic Building, this is other than one we currently use as the field hut.............


Then there is also the stuff that is well rubbish..................










There is a little story about these bottles...............it wasnt clear as to what was in them but it was thought that is was Hydrogen and being in bottles that they went sure how stable they were. As the story goes a sharp shooter from the Tas Police was brought down with the task of rendering them stable........


See they are all now totally safe with a nice little hole in each!


Below is a pic of a Weasel obviously in bad condition................on the side of the vehicle i was able to make out the vehicle number...................

And yep here is the actuall vehicle..............could have blown me over with a feather when i saw the matching numbers............


So this is Wilkes there is one more intresting think i wanted to tell you all about and that was the crash of a Neptune on 09 Nov 1961 here is the plane before...........


There is a couple of good web sites to have a look at with alot of detail in them..............
http://www.radiocom.net/vx6/billy439.pdf
http://antarctica.kulgun.net/History/Wilkes/BUNO140439/

Lastly while we are on the subject of planes we actually saw a big one today. Today Sunday the 6th at 4:45pm we had a flyover of a Qantas A380.......sure it was at 10,000 feet and it wasnt on approach to Wilkins (not Wilkes old station) as the runway still isnt in a position to accept any planes........


and beleive it or not i had my big lens on and zoomed in all 400mm of it and thats the best pic i got......

So here we are another week down and not long to go before im home. Dont know if im looking forward tothe tempratures that there is back home as it looks like the weather has finally turned down here. Nice and crisp in the mornings and im still loving it. I have been closely following whe recent events back home in Oz. Its crazy with cyclones, flooding in both Qld and now in Melbourne i hope everyone is ok.

Well i hope everyone is safe and as well as me..............

Michael

P.S................."Don’t confuse charisma with a loud voice."
                   Harvey Mackay