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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 1990-91: VUWAE 35


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Antarctica New Zealand November 1990

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The purpose of this project was to install a permanent tide gauge at Cape Roberts. In November 1988 a tide gauge pressure transducer was installed at Cape Roberts within a steel pipe bolted to the coastal rock. This installation was subsequently lost when the coastal ice foot broke off in February 1989. The transducer site we had choosen was the best available because it had deep freely circulating water under the ice foot close to shore but it was clear that a permanent installation required greater protection. I believed this could be achieved by installing the transducer in a hole drilled at an angle through the rock to exit into free water beneath the ice foot.


K193 (Cape Roberts) was undertaken as a DOSLI event this season but is jointly sponsored by the Antarctic Research Centre @ VUW, the N.Z. Meteorological office and the Department of Survey and Land Information (DOSLI).

This programe was approved later than most other programmes and was dependent on logistic support being made available from the NZARP programme. Previous consultation between A. Pyne and G. Varcoe ensured that the proposed field activity was understood if late approval was given. No significant problems cocurred subsequently in the final planning stage.


  • A.R. Pyne; Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University
  • G. Varcoe; Technical Services, DSIR Antarctic
  • P. Woodgate; Staff Section, DSIR Antarctic
  • R. Bensemann; Plant Operatorm, Scott Base N.Z. Army.
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Preparation for the Field

This programme was closely associated with the D5 cargo train to Cape Roberts. Much of the preparation for the cargo train organised by G. Varcoe was underway by the time Pyne & Woodgate arrived at Scott Base. This season the briefing at Scott Base was well managed and the red tape minimised by the operations staff.

Field Equipment

i)This event was either based at the Cape Roberts facility or with a mobile Wanigan (N.Z.1). It is less appropriate in this situation to rely solely on the NZARP 20 man day ration box system and would have been more efficient to draw on some Scott Base food stocks in a similar way to Vanda Station and Cape Bird facility. This would be efficient if some Scott Base supplies were in smaller packages rather than the bulk supplies at present or if suitable containers were available for repacking.
ii)The Winkie Drill worked well for this programme and proved its portability and flexibility to drill the 12.8m long 450 angled hole for the tide gauge transducer. The problems we had where minor and did not prevent the successful drilling of the hole. If a programme in the future required the drill for several holes it would be worthwhile returning all the drill equipment to N.Z. for complete checking and maintenance. The Winkie drill is an invaluable asset of DSIR Antarctic field equipment and worth keeping in good repair.

A Mate powerhead was also used to drill the ice foot with a 10 inch VUW ice auger. This also worked well but was the newest powerhead at Scott Base and the only one in good condition as of November 1990.

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The other members of this event, Garth Varcoe, Paul Woodgate and "Ben" Bensemann require special mention for their efforts in drilling the hole for the transducer installation at Cape Roberts. Also at Cape Roberts members of the survey event K192 helped with this programme. Peter Isaac provided valuable advice and encouragement from Britina Island while setting up and programming the instrumentation. John Alexander (Operations Manager) and other members of the Scott Base staff provided invaluable support. At Victoria University; Eric Broughton, Jimmy Millar and the Mechanical Workshop helped with the preparation and checking of equipment. Finally Charlie Thurgood of Scott Technical Instruments Ltd. provided an excellent service to replace a faulty transducer for the programme.

K193 Itinerary

5 Nov. Pyne, Woodgate to Scott Base. Varcoe, Bensemann already at Scott Base with other events.
6 Nov. Loading cargo train for Cape Roberts. Winkie drill and K193 equipment. K192 and USGS survey and field equipment K047 fuel & LPG. Woodgate on overnite survival course.
7 Nov. Completed cargo loading with 2 "seal" bladders (JP8) for helo refueling at Cape Roberts.
8 Nov. Poor weather with intermittant clear periods. Left at 1030 hrs from Willies field road transition. Travelled 6 hours until visibility deteriorated, stopped east of Butter Pt. Party personnel: G. Varcoe, A. Pyne, P. Woodgate, R. Bensemann, G. Falloon (K192), and L. Skinner (K192).
9 Nov. Continued to Cape Roberts in clearing weather, arrived approx 2200 hrs. Off loaded fuel & LPG for Vanda at Marble Pt. enroute.page break
10 Nov. Drilled ice foot (5 holes) at the previous tide gauge siet to determine best site and attitude for transducer drillhole. Ice foot was significantly thicker than 2 previous seasons with pressure ice blocks incorporated into the ice foot.
11 Nov. Set up Winkie drill and ran casing to 0.5m.
12 Nov. Drilled 6.5m. Lost circulation at times in jointed rock above ice foot (approx high tide).
13 Nov. Continued drilling and broke through into free water at 12.8m. Attemped to flush hole with sea water during the night but freezing in hole occurred about 24200 hrs.
14 Nov. Overdrilled casing to 2.6m while hole was frozen (0300-0500 hrs). 3m of ABS pipe (1" bore) from Scott Base to add to LDPE liner pipe. Redrilled ice out of hole and installed liner pipe and transducer. Disassembled drill rig and equipment, repacked cargo sledges.
15 Nov. Cargo train (Varcoe, Woodgate, Bensemann) left for New Harbour 1200 hrs. Pyne remained at Cape Roberts. Removed data logger box from Met. mast and rewired for new instruments.
16 Nov. Fitting new transducer to datalogger system. Found faulty resistor in transducer to datalogger interface (AVW1).
17 Nov. Continued testing transducer with modified constant temperature programme. Decided to recheck transducer installation - poured 5 l of isopropal alcohol in liner pipe to unfreeze transducer.
18 Nov. Removed checked and reinstalled transducer. Reprogramming datalogger and renewed wind speed and director instruments.
19 Nov. Testing datalogger programmes and instruments.
20 Nov. Checking equipment. Brent George (K191) flew to Cape Roberts for familiarisation and surveying of the installation. Pyne, George return to Scott Base 2300 hrs by helo.
21 Nov. Packing equipment in early morning. Pyne return to New Zealand.