We are all awesome!


To clarify, we’re pretty much always awesome (especially me), but today we were particularly awesome. We collected 37 meteorites, and found (but didn’t collect) another 8 meteorites. Now, for the ANSMET vets, I know what you’re thinking…Meh. But there were several sets of extenuating circumstances that makes 37 quite good.
Today started off pretty slow. We were the primary back-up for a Twin Otter resupply today, so we had to wait till 10 AM or so to find out if we were getting visitors. For me (decidedly not a morning person), this was actually a good thing, as it meant sleeping in till 9 AM and then a leisurely breakfast and real coffee (I finally know how to use my french press coffee maker). Ultimately it turned out that all Twin Otter flights were cancelled today (we didn’t actually get a reason why), so that meant at 11:30 we congregated to head out to look for more meteorites (it’s what we do).

There were a couple of additional complications to the late start. For one, we got another 1/8 of an inch of snow last night, bringing the total on the blue ice sheet to nearly ¼ of an inch. Now a ¼ of an inch of snow might not seem like much if you’re from a snow belt, e.g., Buffalo (if only snow was in the top 5 problems Buffalo has…still, at least it isn’t in New Jersey), but out here it causes issues. That’s deep enough that it starts to obscure some of the smaller meteorites (and we all know those are Cecilia’s favorites, so we don’t want to miss those). There has been so little wind over the past two days that our snowmobile tracks in the snow on the blue ice are still sharp.

Note: Ever seen snow out of a clear blue sky? I have now. It is a slightly disconcerting and extraordinarily beautiful thing. Know how you look up when it is snowing and you can indistinctly see the snow cascading towards you (against a grey/white background). Now imagine seeing that against a blue background with sunlight sparkling off the individual flakes. Amazing. I just wish the pictures had come out.

Secondly, the short day also meant that driving the 45 minutes out to the far ice field to continue sweeping was not time efficient (1.5 hours of driving for 3 hours of searching). I wish that argument worked on my bosses about commuting in Houston traffic! We needed a closer place to search for today.

Finally, the light wasn’t great, as it was getting cloudier and cloudier as the day went on, making the light flat and the different rocks all look pretty much the same at first glance. There really isn’t any fixing this. I suggested that our valiant mountaineers follow along behind us with flood lights to make our searching easier. Johnny didn’t answer me right away; I assume he’s going to get back to me on that.

In any case, we decided to go investigate the little ice tongue, which is only 15 minutes from camp. Now those of you who have been to Davis-Ward before (I realize that is only about 12 other people in the world, but that’s likely a sizable percentage of our readership), will likely remember the place. It is a small area of blue ice surrounded by horrendously rock-rich moraines on three sides. Luckily the ice itself is packed with many many many many small dark rocks. We took a quick look in there back in 2010-11, and then valiantly decided to let future seasons worry about that particular area. I can’t believe how that has come back to bite me in the arse.

In any case, we took two quick recon traverses across the blue ice field at relatively high speeds to check out how concentrated the meteorites were (4 meteorites found, not too shabby), and then spent ~1 hour searching two different random areas of the moraine. Now these moraines are simply paved with rocks, and they are not well size sorted. Moreover, they had numerous black and rounded rocks in them. Finally, it was so warm today (and no wind), that almost all of the rocks were wet making them all look a bit shiny (in the second moraine there was standing water in many places and places where the rocks were actually melting down into the ice).

We found 13 meteorites in the first moraine region, and then we found 20 meteorites in the second moraine (I think our eyes were getting more and more dialed in despite the poor light conditions). In fact, the second moraine started to become something of a feeding frenzy, where we would stop to collect a meteorite and invariably find 1 or 2 more. It started to get pretty competitive; I’m fairly certain I saw Christine cross-check Vinny with a flag to get to a meteorite first. Since it was late in the day, Jim failed to call the penalty and allowed play to continue (these are 3rd period playoff rules). At the “last” meteorite of the day we actually found 5 more meteorites in about 1 minute, at which point Johnny called time on collecting. I’m reasonably certain this wasn’t because it was 5 o’clock, but mostly because he was stuck running the GPS and wasn’t getting to poach along with the rest of us. Still, we found 3 more after his moratorium (including a softball sized one I found).

In any case, collecting 37 meteorites (and finding 45) in about 5 hours of searching in a tough area under poor lighting conditions pretty much makes us super heroes. Spiderman has got nothing on us!

Tomorrow we’ll continue to wait for our resupply (hopefully it will get here before we actually leave), and probably go back out to grab the rest of those meteorites (and maybe find some more).

Lesson Learned – French Press coffee pots definitely do not go on the stove! Who knew?! Luckily it was pointed towards Jim’s side of the tent, so the fountain of molten coffee got his gear not mine (I do feel a little bad about that).

– written by Ryan Zeigler, Davis-Ward, Friday January 9, 2015

P.S. Our dinner tonight was Vietnamese Chicken Curry (from a pouch). It was quite tasty and made me think even more of my own personal Vietnamese Curry chef. To be clear, hers is much better than what we had here…and her rice is rarely chewy (mine is most of the time). Wish you were here to make us dinner ;-).

Figure Caption 1: Let’s play a game. Find the meteorite! (Answers will come in a few days…if you’re lucky…and good.)





Figure Caption 2: Let’s play a game. Find the meteorite! (Answers will come in a few days…if you’re lucky…and good.)







Figure Caption 3: Here you can see some of the rocks where they are melting into the ice. That makes the searching more challenging.