Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Dry Valleys Gallery

NOTE: This is the last post on this blog and I don't plan on uploading any more pictures. Hope you've enjoyed it! If this is your first visit, I suggest you start with my first post: Landing on the Ice!!!.

It has been a week since I returned and after a mostly sleepless flight across the Pacific and then further across the US to the East Coast, I am finally settling into a good sleep pattern. The trip to Antarctica was wonderful. Especially the last two weeks of field camp in the Dry Valleys were a truly ‘out of this world’ experience! I will start uploading a selection of pictures from the Dry Valleys, but given the busy work days ahead I may not be able to write much in detail. I hope that the pictures themselves will be sufficient to impress you, although I will try to add captions.

The Dry Valleys cover an area of approximately 2500 sq. miles (a little larger than the state of Delaware) and form a unique place on this vast continent of ice, and indeed a unique place on the planet. The Dry Valleys are a cold and dry desert where there is virtually no visible biological life, except for odd, hardy lichen, millimeter sized nematodes in the soil and algal mats in some of the ponds and lakes. The landscape of chocolate-brown rocks topped with beautiful majestic glaciers paused in their flow down into the broad valleys below, creates a powerful impression, the grandeur of which is hard to fathom, as there is absolutely no sense of scale. The clear dry air offers unobstructed visibility up and down the valleys making it possible to see landforms 40 miles (65 km.) away!!! The mind is at a loss trying to comprehend the enormity of its surroundings and is humbled at the realization that a human such as me is insignificant in comparison.

Jan 11 - The first day at Bull Pass. Our tents and supplies had already been dropped at our camp site ahead of our arrival at Bull Pass. The first part of our group arriving soon set up camp, and by the time the helicopter made its second trip to get me and the rest of the crew, camp was almost established. We helped get the last few things in order, had a quick supper and headed for a short evening walk on the eastern slope of Bull Pass.

Jan 12 – Today we were headed west from camp up along the ridge north of Wright Valley observing the rocks and learning about the geology of the region from my boss. As before, I will save the geology for a little later. For now, just enjoy the pictures that attempt to display this vast landscape on a 15 inch computer screen.

We climbed over rocks that had been sculpted and carved by winds over thousands of years. Across the valley we could see the snow capped Mt. Odin rising almost 2 kilometers above the valley floor which was barely a 100 meters above sea level. The River Onyx flowed through Wright Valley emptying itself into Lake Vanda which is a saline lake about 3.5 miles (5 km.) long and is mostly frozen at its surface.


veena said...

Awesome pictures Kaustubh! Count yourself lucky. Ypou're one of the privileged few to have been to Antarctica and have trod where only few have gone before.
Veena P.

Claire said...

Wow awesome rocks! I have never seen anything quite like that!