Ice and Medicine at the end of the earth

Mt. Erebus Ice Caves

The ice caves compete with the iceberg for the most amazing Antarctic scenery so far.  We traveled by Delta vehicle out to the Erebus Glacier Tongue, which is on the way to Cape Evans.  The snow was deep which made driving difficult.  Our fearless leaders avoided a couple of close calls and we made the entire trip without having to dig out the vehicles.  We walked to the ice caves in groups of six.  When I was not at the ice caves, I was looking for penguins.  No luck, but there is still time.

Mt. Erebus is to the left of the photo above.  You can see the first group walking toward the cave, which is marked by flags.  The caves are formed where the glacier flow off Mt. Erebus meets the sea ice.

We followed the flags to the hole above.  Which is actually the entrance to the ice cave.

You can start to see the crystal structures that make up the ceiling and walls of the cave.  They are very fragile, so we were careful not to touch them.  The blue color of the ice against the white of the crystals was gorgeous.  The glistened off of the snow.  As you can imagine, the photos do not capture the experience or the beauty.

The next photo is a view toward the back of the gave.  You can see the blue “glass” walls reflecting off white crystal ceiling. I walked to the back of the cave through the narrow passage.

A close up of the wall highlights the blue color and the contrast between smooth wall and crystal formation

From the back of the cave, other folks in the group were framed by the light entering through the doorway.

The following photos are close ups of the crystalline structures found in the cave.

Looking out over the sea ice from the cave

And finally, my first icicle sighting in Antarctica!

In other exciting news, T.J. has arrived in Christchurch, NZ and will take a C17 flight to McMurdo tomorrow!!

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5 responses

  1. michele

    this looks very awesome and very dangerous. do you actually get to see tj when he arrives?

    November 18, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    • I DO!! He should be at McMurdo for a couple of weeks 🙂

      November 18, 2010 at 1:24 PM

  2. mom

    again, unbelievable…and you get to see TJ tomorrow! I am so happy for you – mom

    November 18, 2010 at 1:21 PM

  3. Isabella

    The pictures of the wall and the crystals are amazing. What an awesome experience this is! I have a book ‘Hidden Messages in Water’ about the differing crystalline structures created by waters from different places (and lots of other stuff) – these pictures remind of some of those pictures. Glad to that TJ is finally there!

    ps the fudge was really yummy!

    November 18, 2010 at 3:35 PM

  4. Shelly

    Hi Jessie:
    I have been enjoying your notes and posts. This is such a great opportunity for you and I love that you are sharing it with all of us. I am glad that TJ is there to join you now. We will miss you at Thanksgiving but we will be thinking about you!
    Love, Shelly

    November 19, 2010 at 5:49 AM

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