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Antarctic conservation

2 Posts tagged with the corn tag
0

Corn and flour

Posted by Conservators Mar 28, 2011

Posted by Julie

 

Date: 23/3/11
Temperature: -13.5
Wind Speed: 15 knots
Temp with wind chill: -28
Sunrise: 7:58
Sunset 19:59


Martin has blogged about how food crates were used as architectural building blocks at both Cape Royds and Cape Evans (see last week’s blog).  Stacked into walls, crates of dry goods – predominately corn and flour – remained frozen until needed and also provided additional shelter, a practical system.


As Martin writes, many of those boxes will be conserved over the winter, but then we will return the food boxes to their original locations – i.e., outside, where they will remain exposed to harsh conditions.  This situation presents us with a conservation dilemma.  We are all aware that if the boxes disintegrate in spite of our conservation treatments, one-hundred-year-old corn and flour will leak into the environment. To make things worse, some of the corn and flour is already significantly mouldy.  Mould samples have been tested in previous seasons, and we are confident that the existing mould does not pose a current health hazard (though we continue to take health and safety precautions as we work).  However, we do not know what will develop in the future.

 

Corn and flour resized.jpg

Corn and flour drying, before reinsertion into conserved wooden boxes.   © AHT / Julie

We are charged with preserving the original configuration of the artefacts, but also with preventing the introduction of materials that could be hazardous to the Antarctic environment or wildlife.  In the end, we have settled on a compromise.  As Martin repairs the wooden boxes, we are drying the food in large trays, removing any mouldy contents, and then repacking the food into the conserved boxes in sealed, doubled plastic bags.  The introduction of the plastic bags alters the original contents of the boxes, but the bags should prevent hazardous leakage into the environment.

1

Popcorn

Posted by Cricket and Diana Dec 6, 2010

Posted by Martin


Date: 29.11.2010
Temperature: -6.3
Wind Speed: 8.8 SE
Temp with wind chill: -14
Sunrise: n/a
Sunset n/a

 

We would have loved to have finished off dinner tonight with some hot steaming popcorn in our field camp at Shackleton’s hut, Cape Royds.  Unfortunately it was not to be. The corn we had rather caused a bit of an environmental headache as it was 100 years old and poured out of an old provision box we were excavating.

 

Martin_Excavated_Corn_Box.JPG

These boxes, typically about 320x320x400mm, were used by the expedition to transport everything from engine oil to candles and all sorts of food items.  They also made useful building blocks to build the first garage ever built in Antarctica. Since Sir Ernest Shackleton had decided to take an Arrol-Johnston Motorcar on his British Antarctic Expedition(1907-1909), a garage was needed adjacent to the expedition hut at Cape Royds.

 

Cape Royds.jpg

 

Excavating the remains of this garage led us to some unopened corn boxes which had been preserved in the permafrost for over 100 years.  Antarctic environmental regulations are very strict. It meant picking up every single kernel and disposing it in what is called food contaminated waste.  This waste gets shipped back, checked and disposed of in NZ. Most of the corn looked amazingly fresh and even though it was tempting, we followed protocol and enjoyed a chocolate desert instead.