Thursday, April 8, 2010

...and two years later, one of my post ice projects

This video was created as a result of my ARISE project proposal, to show the science of ANDRILL through artistic expression. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

And we all roll merrily on...

Leaving the ice wasn't and isn't the end of the ANDRILL project, or the SMS scientific effort.  It is only the beginning of years of work based on this core and the other information collected in our intense 2-3 months on the ice.  
Much of the team is meeting again this week here in Tallahassee, Florida at the university to review what progress each of the discipline teams have made in analyzing their samples, visit the core again (like a long lost friend), select additional samples to be taken from the other side of the working 1/2 of the core, the one we didn't touch while on-ice, and to make plans for future collaborations, meetings, and drill hole proposals. The heat,
 humidity, trees and insects make it a very different environment
 than where we saw each other last.

The primary reason we are meeting here is that Florida State University houses the Antarctic Core Library.  Every sediment core that has been drilled in Antarctica (remember there aren't that many) is stored here in a climate controlled room.  We suited up in heavy coats and suits to go in to take a look.  

Looking at innocuous rows of shelves and boxes, it felt a little like I was peering into the government warehouse at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie - who knows what is in each box!?  Only I do know.  I know what the depth numbers mean, I recognize the acronyms of the projects and know where each one was taken from.  I know exactly how much trouble, sweat, teamwork, and expertise each box represents.  And I know what kind of 
information we can learn from them.  

Thanks ANDRILL!  Your big picture vision of a multi-national, interdisciplinary team has made an incredible difference to me, the other ARISE educators, and everyone we have had a chance to share the experience with!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Curious George and the Penguins

I last left George back at the dorm with the instructions, "Don't get into any trouble while I'm gone."  Unusually enough for George, he has stayed out of trouble!  Such a well behaved little monkey.  

As a reward, I arranged for him to visit the local Cape Royds Adelie penguin colony with a friend of mine, Jean Pennycook.  She works with Dr. David Ainley monitoring the long-term effects of changing climate on the penguin colony.  Her trip there was delayed until after I left the ice, so George will stay with her for awhile, then come back to New Zealand with some of ANDRILL's scientists who live in Christchurch where I can pick him up before heading back home to Alaska!
When I got to see the photos from George's trip, I was amazed to see how friendly the Adelies were to George.  I'm glad he decided to come back home with me rather than stay with the penguins.  It is probably because he doesn't like to eat fish!

It certainly looks like they had fun!  Huge thanks to Jean, Louise, and Kari for introducing George around and taking his picture for me.  Thanks to everyone who sent comments and requests for places for George to visit on this trip.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So Hard to Say Goodbye!

I think this is the most difficult blog I've had to write yet. Why, you ask? I have to tell you about leaving when I'm not sure I was quite ready to leave. While Louise and Reiner were out with the penguin colony the rest of the ARISE team was packing and saying our farewells. Robin and I managed to sneak in a hiking trip to the top of Observation Hill. It rises a little over 900 feet above McMurdo Station and is one of the few places in town that usually has a tremendous view of Mt. Erebus. Much to my dismay, the day we climbed "Ob Hill" was one of the days that the volcano was socked in with clouds. But it's still a great view from the top! Kate has been busy writing an Ob Hill Trail field guide for us all to use- too bad we didn't get to test it out that day, but I'm anxious to have a look at it.

Most of the day on Monday was spent collecting all of our belongings, doing the last loads of laundry and packing all but the clothes on our backs and ECW gear into suitcases and orange duffel bags. The process for leaving Antarctica is the reverse of arrival. Everyone has to wear ECW gear on the plane and are only allowed one small bag to carry on, everything else has to be checked in ahead of time and loaded on as cargo. The day before scheduled flights back to McMurdo everyone has to bring checked luggage to the transport office during "Bag Drag". All checked items must weigh less than 75 pounds and be left there overnight. Robin, Joanna, Bob, Ken, Graziano and I had to report for Bag Drag at 8pm that Monday evening. Fortunately I had mailed home four boxes of books and gift items I bought for family members so all of my remaining gear weighed in at 68 pounds. Everyone in ECW gear and carry-on items also had to be weighed. I had my big red pockets stuffed with fruit for the flight back, along with a couple of books. My carryon bag contained my laptop, two cameras, a dozen rolls of film, my jeans, a couple pairs of shoes, sunglasses and a bottle of water. I stepped on the scale with all of that and laughed to see I weighed 205 lbs! But it felt great to leave most of the luggage behind knowing that someone else would have to drag it around and all I needed to worry about was getting to the ANDRILL End of Season party.

It was a very good party.
By now, through all sorts of bonding experiences, we had formed so many friendships and everyone was together enjoying each others' company. Many of us danced the evening away. Robin and Joanna took a breather in the cooler air outside.

I finally had to stop dancing at midnight! As I left to go back to my dorm room, I tried not to think about saying goodbye, it was easier to say "see you later" in hopes that I would see everyone later.

Fortunately, our flight was scheduled for early afternoon and we could have one last trip to the cafeteria and a real lunch instead of a snack box on the plane.
We then loaded ourselves onto Ivan the Terrabus- or the MART (McMurdo Area Rapid Transit) and bounced along the sea ice "highway" out to the "airport".
There actually is a very small passenger terminal at McMurdo International Airport, but it was such a beautiful spring day we all enjoyed our last hour out on the sea ice with a clear view of Mt. Erebus (too bad I couldn't zap myself to the top of Ob Hill for a photo of the view!). Once all the cargo was loaded onto the C-17 we clamored aboard and found seats along the sides of the plane.
This flight was much more spacious than the C-130 and we could get up and walk around. We even went up in the cockpit for a good view of the mountains and ice slipping away beneath us.

I have to say, it was a very emotional trip back to "civilization". Antarctica has changed me. It's made me stronger, weaker, older, and younger. It has also made me wiser and claimed me as a permanent resident in my heart.

After a very short five hour flight we landed in Christ Church and changed out of our ECW gear, no longer needed in the New Zealand summer evening. We took all of our borrowed gear back to the clothing distribution center and looked more like tourists as we checked back into the Windsor B&B. Once again the friendly voice on the PA system called us to breakfast at 7:30 in the morning with the distinctive "wakey, wakey". I had just enough time to skip around the corner to the art museum before Robin and I had to catch our flight. We were happily surprised that we could spend some of our wait time at the airport outside on the rooftop observation deck.
After three plane flights and two December the 5ths I woke from a nap on the flight coming into Dallas to see the most spectacular sunset I can ever remember. Of course not seeing a sunset in two months might have made this one all the more spectacular.

I'm back home now trying to figure out what day it is, and why it seems so dark at night. It still seems like it should be time to get ready for Thanksgiving. Even though I'm a little disoriented, I do know I'm really glad to be back together with my family and am looking forward to sharing my amazing adventure with the kids at school.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Slice it Thin

The purpose of making thin sections is to create a thin, polished slice of rock 30 microns thick attached to a microscope slide that can be examined under a polarizing microscope to identify the mineral composition of the rock.  

The process starts by attaching the rock sample to a glass microscope slide.  Below the rock is being attached against the frosted glass side of microscope slides with epoxy on the pressure jig that provides even pressure and a consistent thickness of epoxy.  If samples are very porous or crumbly, they are first saturated with epoxy, sometimes using vacuum impregnation.  There can't be any air bubbles or unevenness between the rock and the slide surface.  It takes a couple of hours for the epoxy to cure on the hotplate where the jig rests.

The next step is to cut the rock samples down as soon as possible after the epoxy sets, especially large samples as they cool more unevenly and could generate enough force to crack the glass slides.  The excess sample is trimmed neatly off with a vacuum swing arm on a rock cutting saw (below).  The glass slides provide a good seal on the vacuum plate, the arm allows the new cut to be parallel to the surface of the slide so the finished product will be exactly the same thickness all over.

Next the slides with thicker-than-final rocks firmly attached are placed on the lapping machine to be slowly polished down to the final exactly-30-micron thickness.  A vacuum system again holds the smooth glass slide against the weighted chuck, holding the rock sample down to the grinding surface.  The grinding plate has to be absolutely flat or the finished slides will be uneven so Steve constantly monitors the process, moving slides and arms around.  In the picture below you can see one vacuum chuck loaded up with slides, ready to go on the lapping disc seen behind.  Various sizes of abrasive grit slurrys are used to provide the grinding action, getting finer and finer as the process comes to a close.  Using a fine grade grit at the end is important for optical quality work.  The final few microns are polished away by hand.
Steve Petrushak is an artist and miracle worker.  Samples so crumbly that we could barely (or couldn't)
 get them out of the core in one piece, he manages to create perfect thin section slides.  The ANDRILL team is lucky to have him!  He examines each finished slide to make sure it is ready to be used to identify the core's mineral components at that sampled depth.  He has requests for 600 thin section slides this season, which works out to about 50 every two days.  He is currently managing around 15 every day so will be continuing work after some of the team has left the ice.  To work in this field he says is useful to have some background in mineralogy, optical geology, and crystallography, as well as a good mechanical feel. 

The finished product!

Penguins and Seals and Whales, Oh My!

For ten years I visited classrooms talking about Antarctica and teaching children and teachers about the wildlife in Antarctica. Some students began calling me the “Penguin Lady,” so when I was selected as a TEA (Teacher Experiencing Antarctica) in 2002, one of the main things I wanted to see was a…polar bear! (Just kidding…I hope ALL of you know they are only found in the Arctic!) Of course, I really wanted to see a penguin. As luck would have it, the huge iceberg that had broken off the year before was pushed up against the coast and penguins were not in abundance that year. The only one that was sighted came walking by our field camp the day I was getting a cast put on my broken wrist, so I missed him! (THAT’s a story for another day!) My team took hundreds of pictures of the little adelie penguin they named, Charlie, and through them, I felt I had seen him, too…but in reality…ah well. Life is cruel sometimes.

So imagine my excitement when Jean Pennycook, a TEA friend of mine and the education outreach director for David Ainley’s, invited me to come out to visit the rookery at Cape Royds! It would give us a chance to talk about how we are each approaching education outreach for our science teams. I brought Steve Petrushak, an ANDRILL scientist, and Rainer Lehmann, the German ARISE teacher. We packed up our sleep kits and “P” bottles (and yes, that’s what they are for!) for camping overnight, and headed out in a pisten bully with Rob Robbins and his dive team. (see the last few pictures.) It was a two-hour drive across the sea ice. The divers dropped us at the Cape Royds camp and then set up their camp on the sea ice where they melted a hole and did three dives to retrieve a current meter. It took them 12 hours to melt the hole, and then several hours to do the dives, so we had from 6 pm until about noon to explore with Jean.

Jean and me--a very cold day!

Jean welcoming us to the Ainley camp. You can see the Jamesway and one of the Scott tents.

Jean and David welcomed us with a wonderful spaghetti dinner—we had brought a fresh loaf of bread from the galley—and then we walked to the penguin rookery. Their camp is over several large hills and quite a distance from the penguins. I asked why so far, but when we got there I understood the reason! The birds are raucous as they call to their mates, and the young males without mates are constantly making displays and loudly shouting their virility to the world hoping a female will notice them. And the smell is reminiscent of a barnyard!

The penguin rookery is an “ASMA” area—Antarctic Specially Managed Area”- so we were not allowed to walk through it, but we were able to stand on a hill overlooking the area and take lots of pictures. I was amazed that as we stood with the 2000 mating pairs of penguins to our left, and the sea ice to our right, that it was only about 200 meters to OPEN ocean! I asked about that, because when we flew in, there were hundreds of miles of frozen ocean before we reached the continent. How could this water be open? David explained that it is a polyna. “Polyna” is a Russian word meaning unfrozen water surrounded by ice. There is some mystery to how these form in the Southern Ocean, but this one was probably blown free of ice by the strong winds experienced here recently, and as a result of the huge iceberg finally breaking up and moving north. At any rate, the penguins are enjoying a much shorter walk to their dinner “tables” and "showers"!

After several years of a declining population at this Adelie penguin rookery, it has shown an increase this year, and we were thrilled to hear that. Many of the birds are wing-tagged or have microchips for tracking. There are four penguin colonies being studied by Ainley’s group. They are from Cape Royds, the smallest with about 4000 birds, to Cape Bird, Beaufort Island and Cape Crozier, the largest with 130,000 birds. The success of the birds may have something to do with the nearness of the open water, so foraging is much easier. I asked about leopard seals and whether they were a problem predator for this colony. Since this is a small colony, it would not support a leopard seal’s need for massive quantities of penguin meat. I was told it would be like a marathon runner trying to eat enough calories by picking strawberries along the way.

From our vantage point on the hill, we were able to watch the penguins in constant motion marching out to the sea and then marching back again. The males and females take turns sitting on the egg while the other goes to eat and groom. They can’t leave the egg alone for a minute because it will freeze, or worse, the skuas will dive in and grab it. Skuas are large, brown sea gull-like scavengers. They will grab an egg from a penguin, or steal a baby if a parent isn’t diligently watching. I saw a little adult penguin run after a large skua when it landed in the rookery. He won, too. I think the skua decided that it wasn’t worth the aggravation. The skua flew off to a different spot where I’m sure he hoped the penguins weren’t keeping such close watch.

We weren’t allowed in the ASMA area, but we were able to walk to the sea ice edge, and if a penguin decided to come up to us…well, it was okay. And they did! It was just amazing. They are so curious when they see the big red people that they come running over to check you out. If we were very quiet, or sat on the ice, they would come within just a few feet and let us take lots of pictures. A whale swam by, and unfortunately our quick glimpse didn’t allow us to identify the species for sure, but we think it was a minke. Minkes are the least threatened of the whale species in the Southern Ocean. We also had quite a show with a momma seal and her pup. The pup was insisting that she play with him, and like a good mom, she did!

A storm blew up quickly, and we decided we had better hike back to the hut before it got much worse. We weren’t ready to go in, but it would not be fun to be caught on the sea ice or in the high hills between the ocean and camp in whiteout conditions. I slept in Jean’s tent, and the guys bunked in a small shed. But, the next morning dawned with a brilliant blue sky and bright, beautiful light, and we knew we were in store for some better pictures than even the night before.

Again we hiked down to the sea ice and gingerly picked our way through the cracks. It is very slick and is beginning to change, so lots of caution was required. But the effort was well worth it. We saw emperors as well as adelies! And the adelies were very active swimming and jumping through the water and leaping up onto the ice and sliding like a fumbled football before stopping.

So I hope you enjoy these pictures. I will let them tell part of the story. It was an experience I will never forget, and I wish I could find the words to adequately describe the pictures I carry in my head!

Rainer. Louise, and Steve on the way back, stopped at Barn Glacier.

Pisten Bully pulling the divers' "tomato" hut. Thanks Amy, Rob and Addy for the ride! Thanks Steve and Rainer for sharing photos!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Eye to the Microscope

On the next microscope over, Dr. Kari Bassett spends much of her time examining and describing thin section slides like the one shown twice in different lights below (tune in tomorrow for all the details on how these thin slices of rock are made). Even though we look at them both under a microscope with different lights to learn about them, one major difference between the thin section slides and the smear slides I am working with is that the thin section is a slice of rock of known thickness - 30 microns.  Knowing the thickness of the slice allows scientists to use light accurately identify the minerals that make up the rock. A "rock" is anything made of multiple minerals. 

On the first look at a slide, the aim is to categorize the compositional type of the rock the slice was taken from (e.g. mostly terriginous) and get some grain size data.

When Kari looked at the slide above (plane polarized light on the left, cross polarized light on the right) some of the things she noticed were the two large chunks of material included in this rock.  In plain polar the one on the left is transparent and yellow, in cross polar it is black and opaque (can't see through it) - this means it is composed of glass.  How on earth does glass get into rock?  Volcanoes!  This whole area is tectonically and volcanically active.  We even have an active volcano, Erebus, on the island we are living on.  The bubbles in the glass indicate that the eruption occurred in cold conditions, the frothy lava didn't off-gas entirely before solidifying. Since it is only a small piece of volcanic glass, it has travelled to the place where it was incorporated into the sea floor.  The chunk on the right side of the slide, opaque and black in both types of light, was changed by the weathering process into pyrite or magnetite.  Overall this is an iron rich sample.

Even if you don't have one of the vital handbooks for checking on what you are seeing under the microscope, like The Colour Atlas of Rocks and Minerals in Thin Section or Microscopic Identification of Minerals, take a look at the paired images of a thin section slide below and describe features you notice.

Of the many things you might notice, look at the two grains that are brownish tan in the plain polar light on the left.  These demonstrate why mineral identification of grains needs both plain polar and cross polar examination.  When you look at the same two grains under cross polar, one is still brown and transparent, the other has turned black!  That one is glass, the other pyroxene (also a volcanic mineral).  Like the pyroxene in this slide, some minerals look the same under either light, others change a lot.  Either way, it tells us about what type of mineral it is.

What types of things can you think of that you need different sources of information about to be sure you are accurate?  What might be a good analogy for thin section mineral identification? 

For more on thin section identification, check out this online guide.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Boxing Day

Like me, you may never have wondered where all the boxes for the core come from.  They are just part of the scenery!  No one nips out to the corner store to buy them.  Today we had to build them ourselves :) 

A major part of planning for any science team heading to Antarctica to do research is figuring out to the last item what will be needed to conduct their science work for their whole visit.  There are some things that are common to all science teams that NSF brings in and maintains at Crary
 lab: glassware etc. and even some larger pieces of equipment.  For teams that require specialized 
machines, computers, tools or supplies, they figure out what and how much they will need, then pack it up and ship it to the folks at Raytheon, well in advance of deployment.  
Don't miscount - you might end up in the embarrassing position of having brought down too much or too
 little.  Too much and you wasted precious cargo space.  Too little and you might not be able to finish your science work.  Logistics pros from Raytheon schedule the cargo in and
 out of all USAP sites, planning so that the available space is used to get things there just in
 advance of when they are needed, as there isn't too much storage but the science isn't being held back either.

Box party in the lab!  Everyone comes and 
pitches in to turn huge piles of flat waxed cardboard into core boxes.  Today we made boxes for HQ (3 sections of core per box) and NQ (4 sections of core per box) diameter core.  These boxes are a little over 1m long.  This stuff is tough.  Thick waxed board has to be painstakingly bent at the dotted fold lines to make the right shape.  There is a lid, base and insert for each box.  Making boxes takes time but there is lots of teamwork and music, so we have fun.  After, we have to scrape all the extra wax off the tables and floor - not as much fun.  
This is our second box party, hopefully we won't need another before we are done.  How many boxes do we need?

Just think about this example: for 1000m (or 1km) of core, if a third is drilled in each of the 3 sizes it would make 333m of PQ, 333m of HQ, and 334m of NQ.  How many boxes would we need?  
(hint: each PQ box holds 2m of core, each HQ box holds 3m of core, and each NQ box holds 4m of core.)

Over the Sea Ice to Mario Zucchelli (Terra Nova) Station

This is a long-overdue missive about my trip to Mario Zucchelli Station. Before we even left the US, we were told by Louise (the ANDRILL Eucation and Outreach Co-ordinator) that one of the most important qualities we would need to draw on would be flexibility. We practiced this as we hurried up and then waited while our plane was delayed in Christchurch due to bad weather in McMurdo. But I saw another side of this when Louise rushed into the Micropaleontology Lab and said ‘if you want to go to Mario Zuchelli Station for an overnight stay, be ready with all your ECW gear and anything you need for overnight in 20 minutes - the plane is leaving in 40 minutes!’ Mario Zucchelli Station is the Italian Station formerly known as Terra Nova Station. Mario Zucchelli Station is named for the Italian Scientist and Visionary Mario Zucchelli who oversaw and led the Italian Antarctic Program and the development of the Station.

Map of the Ross Sea Region showing loaction
of Terra NovaBay - the site of Mario Zucchelli Station

I made it back to the dorm, then back to the lab (running all the way - it is hard to run in full ECW gear). I was quite excited. We got weighed in, and got a shuttle out to the runway. We flew in a heavily modified Twin Otter. The company contracted to fly the Twin Otters in Antarctica is Ken Borek Air - a Canadian company - most of the pilots have arctic experience and fly in the Arctic when they are not flying in Antarctica.

The Twin Otter being loaded on the ice at Mario Zucchelli Station

The flight was a microcosm of the International flavor of Antarctica: passengers on the flight included a French Geophysicist/Station Manager (his name was Jean-Francois) en route to the joint Italian/French Station (Concordia Station) at Dome C, and three members of the Italian Station, as well as the Pilot and co-pilot, and another Polish-Canadian pilot that was getting a ride back to Mario Zucchelli, plus myself, Joanna, and Graziano (the teacher from Italy). After the initial rush we waited for an hour while some bags were transferred from the C-17 that had just arrived from Christchurch.

Graziano, Myself and Joanna - all excited about our trip!

Mario Zuchelli Station (formerly called Terra Nova Station) is the Italian station at the southern extent of Northern Victoria Land. We flew over the Ross Sea with views of the Transantarctic Mountains to the west (left) in the distance. But the view that captivated or mesmerized me was the view straight down. I had not realized both how complex and how distinctive the different types of sea ice are, and what a complex pattern they make - it was like looking at pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. At first much of the sea-ice was covered by relatively recent snow that was draped over the ice – one could make out subtle patterns in the ice below, such as the pattern left by the channel that was broken by the icebreaker when the ship came in last February/March. As we flow north we started to get a sense of the area representing a jigsaw of ice plates that been broken up, refrozen, then broken up again.

The Incredible World of Sea Ice
Here are some of the distinctive forms and features that I could see (go to the NSIDC or World Meteorological Organization or NOAA for descriptions and definitions of the different types of sea ice).
Sea ice forms by the freezing of sea water. Some sea ice only lasts one season – other sea ice lasts for two or more years, and is called multi-year sea ice. One of the more dramatic seasonal variations in Antarctica is the difference in the extent of winter sea ice compared to the extent of summer sea ice; the changing extent of winter and summer sea-ice extent is being monitored closely by climate change scientists.

Ceramic Tile (my 'Trivet #1') showing winter and summer extent of sea ice around Antarctica - based on data and maps from NOAA)

We flew over the Drygalski Ice Tongue – which was the centre of an iceberg-related drama in 2005. The Drygalski Ice Tongue is the floating portion of the Davis Glacier. It is 20 km wide, 50-200 m thick, and at least 4000 years old (based on radiocarbon dates from penguin guano). The area of open water (polynya) on its northern margin provides access to good fishing for the penguin colonies in the vicinity.

View of edge of Drygalski Ice Tongue and adjacent sea ice (mostly Nilas Ice)

The Drygalski Ice Tongue is moving at a rate of between 50 and 900 meters per year. The iceberg-related drama that I mentioned is the collision of portions of the large iceberg (B-15) that broke off from the front of the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000 with the Drygalski Ice Tongue in April 2005. The chunk of Ice broken off the Ice Tongue measured about 7.5 miles across.

There are several areas of open water in the Ross Sea; these are called polynyas. The map below shows the approximate location of two of the larger polynyas we flew over.

The polynya near the Drygalski Ice Tongue is the result of strong catabatic winds that produce waves and prevent sea ice from forming. Within some of the polynyas that we flew over I could see incredible diatom blooms that look brownish grey in color; the distribution of the diatoms is a consequence in part of wind and wave action; diatoms are algae that make their microscopic shells out of silica - we have a team of diatomists working with Andrill that are using ancient diatoms to help us determine the age of the sediments in the core.

Aerial view of the Terra Nova Polynya with diatom blooms (brownish areas in the water). This picture is taken looking westward towards the Transantarctic Mountains.

Diatom Bloom at the edge of the Ice. Sometimes the thinner and younger Dark Nilas seems to incorporate diatoms from these blooms - it takes on a murky brownish color. There must be enough sunlight here to allow the diatoms to photosynthesize.

At Mario Zuchelli they had been very concerned as to whether the fragments of B-15 would collide with the Campbell Glacier Tongue, which is just north of the station, and essentially protects the water in Gerlache Inlet (the northern part of Terra Nova Bay) from early melt out.

Map of Terra Nova Bay Region of the Western Ross Sea

This is important because at Mario Zucchelli they depend in part on a sea-ice runway as long as possible. It turned out that the Campbell Ice Tongue was unaffected by B-15, but Giuseppe and Roberto did describe the calving of a large portion of the Campbell Ice Tongue “we looked out the window at breakfast one morning and suddenly realized that the front of the ice stream had broken off and a large iceberg was floating away.” They are still waiting to see exactly how this will affect development and melting of the sea ice in Gerlache Inlet.

View to the North. The Campbell Glacier Tongue is the white 'line' almost on the horizon. Cape Washington (location of an Emperor Penguin Colony) is the land in the background.

What amused me about my arrival at Mario Zuchelli was that even here in Antarctica, there was something about the color and light that made it seem Mediterranean (the wonderful pasta and good coffee also helped). It is situated on honey-colored granitic rocks in a small cove.

Mario Zucchelli Station with Mt. Browning & the Deep Freeze Range in the Background. You can see the sea ice runway (...on the sea ice ...)

The sun was low on the horizon, and the rocks had a warm glow to them, emphasizing their beautiful weathered shapes, illuminating the mostly blue and red station. It seemed like a picturesque fishing village in comparison to the enormous station at McMurdo.

Weathered granite at Mario Zucchelli Station

p.s. Oh, and by the way, in case you did not realize it, my ceramics project (see blog 'Don't High-Fire Andrill Penguins') finally produced something useable - Trivet #1, showing the winter and summer sea ice extent made it through the glazing and firing process - I used it earlier in place of a map from a technical publication!