Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Descent into the Valley

Last night I stayed up late- for some bleary-eyed catching-up with Carolyn Dowling, I haven't seen her since she left Columbus a year and a half ago to teach at Arkansas State- and is looking at gas chemistry in the Dry Valley lakes. As the night progressed, the memories grew funnier ...Laughing, I went out from the dark of the coffeehouse into the bright light of the Antarctic summer and ran one last bag to the Science Cargo cage--- because I have been booted out of my dorm room at McMurdo while I stay at Lake Hoare.
Lake Hoare, beautiful breathe-taking Lake Hoare. The lake has developed an aquablue moat and is coated in feathery juts of ice. Next to the lake, I gasp at the site of the Canada Glacier's steep but rounded cliffs, they are sturdier than the mobile faces of temperate glaciers (pictured above). More familiar glaciers like those seen in Alaska, in Iceland, the Discovery Channel. The glaciers in the Taylor Valley are plump martian fingers resting on the skin of the valley floor. It really does look like skin from high in the helicopter, with permafrost cracking the ground along lines of freeze and thaw into patterned squares. The glaciers are slowly seeping water along their margins in shallow proglacial streams. (The surfaces of the glaciers are hummocked and rough from sediment and melt- pictured are Liz and Hassan on this surface).I took a brief nap after taking a 3 hour hike and woke up delighted to hear the sound of percolation. There will be water for me to sample. Will the fate of our pollution register in these extra-terrestrial melts? I cannot wait to find out!

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