M is for: mapping, moraines, musk ox, and mosquitos

Kathryn crossing a particularly boggy area!

Kathryn crossing a particularly boggy area!

We are just at Zackenberg base recovering from a 17-hour walk to and from our field site. We set off yesterday at 10 am and returned this morning at around 3.30am. The purpose of the trip was to locate the best route to our field sites, and to check the condition of the meltwater streams and scree slopes to check that we could cross them next time we go out for our longer camping trip. In total, we walked 42 km, saw 15 musk ox, one arctic hare, one arctic fox, and received 53 mosquito bites (Kathryn 38 : 15 Tim). It was a successful trip and we managed to plan out a safe and efficient route. We intend to follow the same directions next time we head out on our main mapping campaign, further up valley at the ice caps. On the way back from our trip, we also managed to map and sample the sediments from some of the large moraines in the valley. We will use these to establish the former ice limits and to analyse the sediment particle size – this can tell us about the kind of material that was deposited by the glacier, and allow us to infer some of the depositional processes.

Some of the deposits we mapped!  Tim for scale

Some of the deposits we mapped! Tim for scale

We were quite surprised by the size of the moraines – some of them are over 10 m high! They are not very distinctive on the aerial photos of the Zackenberg region, and we did not expect them to be so big. This is good news for mapping, as it makes is much easier to pick out the landforms. We took some samples on our trip, but will probably also return over the next few weeks. We have spoken to some of the other researchers about what we found on our trip, and it has been good to hear their thoughts on the moraines. Some of the other groups who spend a good of time in the field tracking birds and monitoring the streams have also spotted some moraines and have been able to tell us where in the valley we should look for them. Cross-disciplinary science is always important!


Kathryn with a nice brew to keep us going.

Kathryn with a nice brew to keep us going.

Today we are staying at/around the base collating notes from our trip and making plans for the next few days. The weather is much nicer today; the sun is shining and it is around 20 degrees! The heat means that the mosquitos are running riot and Kathryn is being eaten alive! It’s safer indoors, which is good news for our blog! It also gives us a good opportunity to stock up on the essential – food, sleep, and coffee. Dina has once again made a fantastic lunch (with roast beef, sausages, salads, hummous, and the all-important cake. Today is peach cake, though we are sure we could smell chocolate cake being baked in the oven – maybe this will be on the menu at dinner this evening. Yesterday Dina had baked an excellent chocolate and hazelnut brownie. It was the perfect brownie – gooey on the inside and crunchy on top. Mmmm cake.


Tim coming into land after a long day.....

Tim coming into land after a long day…..

Tomorrow we intend to do some maping of the moraines and meltwater streams close to the base. This will allow us to take it easy after such a long walk, before we head back out into the upper valley towards the ice cap. On our trip yesterday we saw some good exposures into the meltwater deposits and we would like to go and sample these. We will also follow up some of the recommendations from the other researchers about the moraines in the lower valley close to the base.

One thought on “M is for: mapping, moraines, musk ox, and mosquitos

  1. Pingback: Walks around Oulanka | Arctic Research

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