Hmm, did you notice? The last report on the re-emergence of the first Neumayer Station was of course, in keeping with the date, just a little April fool’s day joke to kick off the new month. The supposed ‘emergency exit’ is in reality the entry hatch to the Magneto-Observatory (MagObs), which lies roughly 1.5 kilometres south of the station, and which our two geophysicists regularly visit to take readings that offer valuable data for Intermagnet, the global research network on the study of the Earth’s magnetic field. What’s particularly remarkable: the observatory has been in Atka Bay since 1982, and much of the equipment still in use is original. Though the coordinates have of course changed with each relocation, the fact remains that, when you enter the cave 15 metres below the ice and snow, you’re essentially taking a trip back in time to the first Georg von Neumayer Station, or in other words, to where it all began here.
There’s already been a great deal written about the observatory; accordingly, for anyone interested in its exciting history, we recommend reading the report on the AWI homepage, prepared by one of our predecessors:
And there are other similarities to the actual sights here. Admittedly, we invented the term ‘Launing shelf; ‘Launing’ is simply an Old German word for April, at least according to Wikipedia. In addition, there really is a mobile seismographic monitoring station, roughly 10 kilometres north of the station and located where ‘discovery site’ is marked on the map. The monitoring station is an experimental geophysics device, and a departure from the bulky design that is normally considered necessary. The viability of using solar panels to continually recharge the batteries is also being tested. Though that is, in and of itself, nothing new, as you can see in the photo, the solar panel is facing downward; thanks to the ice shelf’s high reflectivity this configuration works quite well, while also significantly reducing the monitoring station’s wind resistance. Now that the summer is over, we’ve already had a number of storms with wind speeds of up to 120km/h, yet the station has continued to run smoothly.
Last but not least, the radar image in the last entry is also real, and really does show two large steel pipes – but they’re notpart of the Georg von Neumayer station; they’re part of the Neumayer II, which is buried deep in the ice roughly 5 kilometres to the north of us. During a test drive, the vehicle-mounted Ground Penetrating Radar system, which has been available at the Neumayer III station since last summer, detected the old station for the first time in more than 10 years. By the way, just a stone’s throw away from the station’s former location is the ‘E-Base’, a container complex that has been managed by South African researchers for the past several years, and which offers us a full-fledged emergency shelter – complete with power supply, snow-melting equipment, bathroom facilities, and of course short-wave and satellite radio for communicating with the outside world. It was built using containers from Neumayer II, and the mess hall and sleeping quarters consist to a large extent of original equipment from the old station. As such, it’s a real piece of Antarctic nostalgia and a little trip back in time, right around the corner from us.