By Lutz Eberlein and Peter Busch |
One focus in the field of geodesy the analysis of crustal dynamics. For our work, we establish GPS-marker points on rock outcrops. To find these spots we have to leave the vessel and work on land. This work includes the privilege to use the ship-based helicopters to fly to the remote islands in the Southern Ocean.
The first chance for land work came when we approached Cape Horn. Once in the vicinity of the island, the two of us had to bring all of our equipment to the helideck and load everything into one of R/V Polarsterns two helicopters.
As we were flying over open (and freezing) water to an uninhabited island, we had to bring the necessary survival kits along with our scientific gear. Our first target was 40 nautical miles or 30 minutes away. 20 minutes after departure the first islands of the cape archipelago and our working area, the Isla Hoornos came into sight. Hovering over the island the pilot and us had to look for a proper, rocky place to land the helicopter safely.
Once landed, we unloaded our scientific equipment and the survival bags before the helicopter left to support a second land group. Our schedule left us with roughly two hours to set up our GPS spot. Accompanied by rain and wind, we decided to keep our helicopter survival suits on. These suits are not only helpful if you end up in the water, they are also quite nifty if you have to work in wind and rain ;-)
When our work was done and every was checked again and again, we contacted the vessel via satellite telephone to be picked up by the helicopter again. As mentioned before, a second land group was onshore as well so we had to wait for heli-support for about one hour.
With nothing else to do, we had some tome to marvel at the unique landscape of this remote island. Unfortunately, the weather went on to treat us with wind and rain.
Four hours after our departure, we were back aboard R/V Polarstern. Our GPS-receiver is still on the island and will be picked up by us on the way back to Punta Arenas. With our data and similar data from other places around the globe, we can calculate the location of our new measuring point on Cape Horn with a precision of less than one centimeter.
The geodesists of TU Dresden aboard R/V Polarstern