24 June 2010

The NEEM airbridge

The NEEM Toyota is leaving camp
The season 2009 NEEM had 14 flights carrying in a total 102.225 kg of cargo and 167 people

The main ingredients needed to keep the NEEM project operational are human resources, food, fuel, and drilling liquid. All of this is brought to camp by the ski-equipped LC-130 aircrafts operated by the New York Air National Guard, the 109th. With the air bridge being vital for the success of the project it is most important that flight missions are running smoothly.

There are, however, many potential obstacles for a flight operation. In Greenland, weather is the obvious troublemaker, for examples in the form of high temperatures (prohibiting take-off as the ski friction increases), snow storms, skiway cross winds, ground fog, or low clouds. Technical issues for the airplanes, airport strikes or closing hours are other possible obstacles. This year introduced yet another issue: volcanic ash clouds.

When all of those problems can be avoided the airbrigde is, however, very efficient both in getting cargo up to camp and in returning participants and ice cores to the coast of Greenland. The trip takes 2.5 hours one way.

What we have done today:
1. Drilling and core logging.
2. Processed ice cores: 45 bags of brittle ice: bag 1146 to 1190.
3. CFA measurements. 20.9 m. Final depth: 1799 m.
4. Receiving Skier 42 with fuel, drill liquid, and food.
5. Maintenance of Pistenbully.

Ad.1: Driller’s depth: 2213.17 m. Loggers depth: 2229.34 meters.

Another day closer to bedrock in the drill trench.  For the most part good runs today, with somewhat disappointing chip recovery from time to time.
We seem to be able to deal with it now by approaching bottom very slowly to avoid ice under our shoes, and making small changes to the hallow shaft configuration (e.g. a ring in the place of a booster on the closed hallow shaft).  We are still learning what these small changes mean, but in the meantime we can collect core as long as we avoid ice below our shoes.  One run in the evening showed great promise with good chip distribution in the upper part of the hallow shaft after recovering from a total lack of penetration (maybe from ice under the shoes) at the onset of the drilling ending in more than 3.4 meters.  Inclination has been more or less stable since we changed the cutters on Monday evening.

Ad. 4: Skier 42 (alias 95) touched down at NEEM 17.15 local. The plane brought us one pallet of drill liquid, one pallet of food and cargo, and 8000 lbs fuel, plus Bob Hawley that came by for a short visit. As retro, the plane was loaded with the Toyota and a garbage pallet. The skier was airborne in first attempt using 1/2 skiway and no ATOs. Outdoor temperature during takeoff was -6.4 C. The whole operation took exactly 1 hour. Thanks to the 109th for a very smooth operation and to Lou for making this possible through intensive skiway preparation.

Weather: Blue sky and good visibility all day. Temp. –14 °C  to –6 °C , wind 3-10 knots from E.

FL, Anders Svensson

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