Return to the glacier

We have arrived in Tarfala! We arrived in the evening on Tuesday on a helicopter, shared with a group from Minnesota University.  We were missing a parcel of inclinometer equipment from Canada, but apart from that I assumed the rest of the kit was in Nikkaluokta after a quick glance. Never assume.

We marked the kit drop points prior to the equipment drop. The talented helicopter pilots at KallaxFlyg managed to hit the bullseye with the drill (on the X) and the kit (on the O)!
We marked the kit drop points prior to the equipment drop. The talented helicopter pilots at KallaxFlyg managed to hit the bullseye with the drill (on the X) and the kit (on the O)!

We spent the next morning testing the drill including all it’s components. We managed to get it flowing and heated up(!) and the heater was burning with clean fumes. We went up onto the glacier in the afternoon to locate a good spot for the field site and played a small game of naughts and crosses to mark out the drop points for the kit. We then spent the evening packing up the drill and fuel ready for transport.

Yesterday we walked up onto the glacier for a supposed equipment drop off time of 10.30. 1 hour later, we were contacted by the helicopter crew to say they would be on the way. So by midday we had (what we thought was) all the kit on the glacier. We met Rafael (Tarfala technician) at the edge of the glacier, in order to carry the drill rig across. The plan was that afternoon to drill the first borehole and set up to complete a VSP the next day.

The obligatory drilling photo. Clemens tries his hand at hot water drilling for the first time. The weather is good; the water is warm. It's a good day.
The obligatory drilling photo. Clemens tries his hand at hot water drilling for the first time. The weather is good; the water is warm. It’s a good day.

It wasn’t until we were stacking the equipment together that I noticed we were missing a vital component – the hydrophone string. And I later noticed we were also missing a seismic box. SO I spent the afternoon calling the shipping companies and helicopters to track this down while Raf and Clemens drilled the first borehole. We managed to drill 95m in around 2hours – a vast improvement on last year.

As a back up plan, we decided to do the radar survey first, instead of the seismic survey, and hope that the kit could be tracked. I am still waiting for an update on that. On the plus side, the inclinometer package was tracked down and delivered, so we can now measure the borehole directions!

The drill site in action.
The drill site in action.

Today, Clemens and Rafael have gone up onto the glacier to start the drilling. Unfortunately, I have a condition that makes me sensitive to sun exposure – so working on a glacier during the polar summer is not always the best plan! I am hiding in the shade this morning while the other two finish the drilling – which they can complete without me. The radar is on charge, and I will go up this afternoon to hopefully complete some data collection. I realise this phrase is slightly similar to one I frequently used last year, however this year I feel more confident that this will actually happen! Let’s just hope that isn’t in vain…

More updates to come! Hopefully we’ll be able to improve on our 50% success rate so far.

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