Planning the transport route

The main transport route from Troll station down to the ice edge.

Map of the planned route

The planned route. Map: Harvey Goodwin / Norwegian Polar Institute

Harvey at Troll

Harvey did some important work before we even left for Antarctica, analyzing satellite images to find the safest route through the crevassed areas. Harvey's route is loaded into all of the GPSs onboard the vehicles. A small mistake here can have serious consequences, so we are thankful for Harvey's careful work. Photo: Per Gunnar Gabrielsen / Norwegian Polar Institute

We will travel down to the Fimbul Ice Shelf to the point F1 (see the map). This route takes us over the "hinge zone", the point where the glacier goes from sitting on its rock bed to becoming a floating ice shelf. Tides are responsible for the extensive crevassing across the hinge zone. This is the main transport route from Troll station down to the ice edge, to the landing point for the supply boat. The heavy vehicles used to transport cargo to and from the ice edge would be in danger of falling into the crevasses, but the route is secured by periodically filling in the crevasses with snow.

From F1 our route takes us along the purple line to R18F5. Up to this point we have help from Troll vehicles in towing the heaviest cargo, which will be left at a depot.

From R18F5 we go straight north through an area (shown in yellow) which the satellite images indicate may be crevassed. The red areas on the map are definite crevasse zones, which we will avoid.

The trip then continues to M1. Here we will drill the first hole, which will be about 250 m deep. From this basecamp the glaciologists will set off on their first traverse, marked with R and G points. R stands for radar measurements, and G stands for glaciological studies, which including taking 10-25 m deep snow and ice cores . We anticipate that work at the site M1 take about three weeks.

When work on M1 is completed, around 16 December, we will move the camp to the site M2, about 50 km away. Here we will melt two holes through approximately 450 m of ice. Maybe Santa Claus will arrive just as we're done here.

We then move on to the last drill site M3, where New Years will be celebrated. The ice on the M3 is about 250 m thick. As before, the glaciologists will make side traverses out from the main camps at M2 and M3.

Once work on M3 is completed, we will up to the landing point on the ice edge, just north of F1 to meet the supply boat. We will the ice cores on board the boat, and set up an automatic weather station which is set to arrive with the boat.

We then head back to Troll, pack up, and head home via Cape Town and Oslo.