Skip navigation
1

Cracks in the ice

Posted by Conservators Sep 28, 2012

Author: Martin

Date: 25 September 2012

Temperature: -28C

Wind Speed: 20 knots

Temp with wind chill: -45C

Sunrise: 6:06am

Sunset: 7:27pm

 

 

After many days of storms, blowing snow and very little visibility we were finally ready to leave Scott Base and to go out again on a stunningly beautiful day. No wind, clear sky, sun and spectacular views of the Trans Antarctic Mountains – we couldn’t ask for more and were keen to get to the historic hut at Cape Evans. 

 

Travelling to Robert Falcon Scott’s Terra Nova Hut, which he built as an expedition base for his British Antarctic Expedition (1910–1913), involves driving  over sea ice for approx. 20 km. 

Jana ice.jpg

Jana helping to drill holes into the ice sheet © AHT/Martin

 

Even though the ice thickness is sufficient by now, there are still some cracks which need to be profiled. It means drilling several holes in to the ice right through to the water and measuring the thickness of the ice sheet. A tape measure and string attached to a weight which hooks itself to the underside of the ice sheet is very simple but works well. With a little tug on the string the weight is released again. By measuring several holes across the crack, the shape and therefore the stability of the ice around it, can be determined. It is a time consuming task, especially if you have to do it several times on a trip, but the alternative of breaking through the ice with your vehicle is a lot less attractive.    

 

crack.jpg

Cracks in an iceberg © AHT/Martin

2

Nailed it!

Posted by Conservators Sep 20, 2012

Author: Jana

Date: 18 September 2012

Temperature: -24C

Wind Speed: 30 knots

Temp with wind chill: -45C

Sunrise: 07:16

Sunset: 18:34

 

 

Some of my favourite artefacts at Captain Scott’s Terra Nova base at Cape Evans have always been the barrels full of nails resting in the scoria behind the base.  Over the years the barrels themselves have deteriorated to the point of having almost disappeared entirely, while the nails inside them have corroded together into an unlikely solid mass resembling some strange sort of sub-atomic particle.  Imagine my delight, then, when I discovered a similar container of nails, albeit on a much smaller scale, amongst a series of tins I have been conserving at Scott Base. 

 

Detail square cut nails C Evans.jpg

Detail, square cut nails © AHT/Jana

 

The tin in question appeared similar to dozens of others I was preparing to treat, until I picked it up and its excessive weight hinted that something was different about it.  The nails inside are fused together into a lump just like those at Cape Evans, though they are much smaller (only 2 cm long) and in worse condition, making it impossible to tell what type of nails they were, or what era they might be from.  Despite their mysterious origin, I still enjoy the aesthetics of their spiky, urchin-esque form, and look forward to once again admiring their larger cousins out at Cape Evans when we travel out there in the coming days.

0

Deja Vu

Posted by Conservators Sep 12, 2012

Author: Martin

Date: 12 September 2012

Temperature: -24C

Wind Speed:  30 knots

Temp with wind chill: -55C

Sunrise: 8:00am

Sunset: 5:45pm

 

 

It is only a bit more than a year ago, during last winter, that I conserved over a hundred food storage boxes from Shackleton’s Nimrod Base. So it certainly comes with a sense of déjà vu to start on very similar boxes excavated from Bowers Annex at Scott’s Terra Nova Base.

1 Before treatment.jpg

Before treatment © AHT/Martin

 

For the next two months I am sharing a workshop with Jody, the carpenter in residence here at Scott Base. With stunning views of Mt. Erebus and across the Ross Ice shelf, I am sure it will be a great place to work.   While Jana, the objects conservator, is treating the contents of the boxes, my aim is to make them structurally sound. It involves gluing split boards, re-nailing corner joints and at times adding new boards where boards have been lost. 

2 During treatment.jpg

During treatment © AHT/Martin

 

All these interventions are kept to a minimum but are necessary to allow the conserved content to go back into the box and for the boxes eventually to be placed back to their original locations. Detailed records are kept documenting the work, which will make it possible for future generations of conservators to distinguish between historic and added material. 

3 After treatment.jpg

After treatment © AHT/Jana

2

Do you take milk in that?

Posted by Conservators Sep 5, 2012

Author: Jana

Date: 5 September 2012

Temperature: -16C

Wind Speed: 25 knots

Temp with wind chill: -28C

Sunrise: 08:56

Sunset: 16:51

 

 

Now that the short burst of springtime flights bringing fresh staff and supplies to Scott Base is over, we are once again in “isolation” mode.  With no more flights due to arrive until October, the sudden influx of fresh fruit and vegetables, worth their weight in gold to most of the winter-over staff who have done without for so many months, has sadly come to an end.  

 

Careful planning ensures that our supply stretches as far as possible, but some of the fresh goods, including milk, will only last for so long.  It seems a small thing, but for most of the year, it is powdered milk that staff at Scott Base add to their coffee and tea and use to pour over their cereal, and as any dairy-phile will attest, it is just not quite up to snuff!  And so while we have the real stuff, we make the most of it.

 

tin of milk powder during conservation.jpg

Tin of milk powder during conservation © AHT/Jana

detail Trumilk label.jpg
Detail, Trumilk label © AHT/Jana

 

Funnily enough, our current glut of fresh milk comes at a time when I am treating (what else!?) historic tins of milk powder.  It seems that our enforced use of powdered milk is no different than that of the early explorers, with tins of Trumilk milk powder having been found in both Scott’s and Shackleton’s huts.  I am sure the early explorers would relate to our appreciation of fresh dairy, though it’s hard to tell what they would make of our espresso machine!