Ice and Medicine at the end of the earth

Posts tagged “Elizabeth Morton

Elizabeth Morton – Ice Core Driller

e_1 (2)All of my posts so far have been about the things – the pole, the station, the travel. So I thought I should do a post on a person and Elizabeth, or E, was an obvious choice.

I first met E at the WAIS Divide drill site during the 2010-2011 Antarctic summer. She was a driller for the WAIS Divide ice core while I was core handler for the project. At that time, I also found out she was a fellow Polar Bear, having graduated from Bowdoin a few years before me.

E’s path to becoming an ice core driller was not a linear one. The short version is that she worked in Antarctica for the first time in the BFC, the Berg Field Center, at McMurdo Station which outfits science groups doing fieldwork. She was lured by the appeal of Antarctica as well as the seasonal work leaving her time to enjoy New Zealand on her return trip.

e_2 (2)E’s talent for organizing people was quickly recognized, and it didn’t take long for her to become the camp supervisor at WAIS Divide. At the time, WAIS Divide was the largest field camp in Antarctica with a maximum population near 60 people. Keeping everything organized was no easy feat, especially with the notoriously bad weather disrupting supply flights, and even once shutting the camp down with no one allowed to move from the building they were in.

It must have been during that year that the appeal of ice coring took hold (and how couldn’t it?) and the next year she returned to WAIS Divide, switching from managing the camp to drilling the ice. She was part of the team that drilled the deepest US ice core ever and is leading to some fantastic science.

After that season, our paths parted until I flew up to Summit Station in Greenland for the test of the new ice-core drill we are using at South Pole. Arriving at Bear Camp, as our satellite camp was called, I was excited to see E there. I knew the drill would be in good hands.

e_3 (2)E has been fantastic to work with this season. She has established a fun, conscientious, safe, and very productive atmosphere that is leading to not only great ice core, but a great ice-core experience. As the season is winding down, her thoughts are turning to her house in New Zealand and spending time enjoying some sun in the outdoors.

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