On Tuesday morning we awoke to a winter wonderland (or should that be spring wonderland...) which slowed our attempts at fieldwork. However by the afternoon the weather had cleared enough to allow Brighid and myself to hike up onto the lower flanks of Virkísjökull with the steam drill, and install a couple more ablation stakes. This involved melting a 12 metre hole into the ice using the steam drill - a fantastic bit of equipment, basically a souped up camping stove with a long rubber hose! - and feeding a long plastic tube down into the hole. With current rates of glacier melting - over 10m per year - these should survive until next summer. So now, using a simple tape measure and temperature records, the rate of melt of the glacier surface can be easily understood. This will allow us to better understand the pattern of glacier retreat and the total amount melt water input into the catchment.
|Verity lighting the gas on the steam drill|
|Steam coming out of the drill as Verity prepares to start drilling|
|Feeding a 12m long ablation stake into the newly drilled ice hole - marked with hi-vis paint so we can see it as it melts out|
Meanwhile elsewhere in the catchment Mike was using the Tromino to measure resident frequency of the sandur sediments so we can work out how thick they are, whilst the Ground Penetrating Radar was helping Andrew in his continued search through the ice for interesting faults and thrusts. Look out for more from them later in the trip! Now keep your fingers crossed that the sky is finally clearing and there’ll be no more snow, so we can have some more busy days ahead.