Enderby Land Operations

by S. Kirkby

The purpose of the 1879/80 operation at Enderby Land was to complete the programmes started in 1974/75. The aerial photography and most of the surveying had been finished previously. Most of the effort was concentrated on finishing the various geology programmes, glaciology, geophysics and a small amount of survey work.

In 1974/75 operations were based at Knuckey Peaks but following a poor season due to very bad weather the base was moved to the Mt King camp from where we operated.

Support for the field parties was provided by three Hughes 500 turbine helicopters with a disposable capacity of about 280 kg (after allowing for survival gear). Radius of operation of these aircraft was 90 nautical miles. Beyond this range it was necessary to fly depots of fuel or carry extra fuel on board and reduce payload. The pilots comprised of Vic (the silver fox) Barkell, Leigh Hornsby and Bruce Cameron who were supported by helicopter engineers Ashley Lewis and Gavin Cochead.

The famous "Red Sled" - Pilatus Porter turbine aircraft was used to build up and evacuate the base camp, to fly out specimens and gear as well as its main task of flying radar ice depth measurement and aeromagnetic surveying. Late in the season it was also used to fly survey parties in to locations beyond helicopter range. John Marsden "Bolshoi Garudis" flew it and Holger Nimz maintained it.

The programmes and the sponsors and those responsible were:

Geochronology - Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR). Dr Lance Black (McGalty). Lance was particularly interested in the Casey Bay area where the Russians claim age of rocks at 4,100 million years. If correct these will be the oldest rocks dated anywhere.

Structural and Techtonic Geology - University of Adelaide - Dr Pat James (the Great McGinty). This programme which ran in conjunction with Lances work aimed at identifying the structural and chronological events in the Amundsen and Casey Bay area.

Petrology - University of California, Los Angeles - Dr Ed Grew. Ed's aim was to determine the distribution of several critical rock forming minerals.

Detailed Geology - of Fyfe Hills/Khamaro bay - University of Melbourne - Dr Chris Wilson, Mike Sandiford. This area is one of very complex geology where two distinct tectonothermal events and a number of igneous episodes are seen together. The area is very rich in minerals and structurally complex (also very beautiful).

Metamorphic studies - University of Tasmania - Simon Harley (Scarlet Ayatollah). Simon's programme was to collect natural occurring garnet bearing rocks to better understand the pressures and temperatures at which a variety of metamorphic rocks form.

Glaciology - Antarctic Division - Graeme Akerman/Drew Clarke. Aims of this programme were to study the outflow from the major glaciers of Enderby Land and to complete the regional mapping of ice depths. The glacier outflows were measured by establishing profiles along and across the glacier beds by radar and measuring the flow rates by survey. Ice depths by aerial radar were measured over a total distance of 7300 km. This equipment sends a radar beam from the aircraft which is reflected from the surface of the ice and from the underlying rocks giving rise to a continuous measure of ice depth.

Geomagnetics - Bureau of Mineral Resources - Big D and Mike Sexton (Snakey). This programme aimed at measuring the components of the earthÕs magnetic field at a number of locations occupied previously to determine changes in the earth's field. These measurements also improve knowledge of regional magnetism.

Aeromagnetics - BMR - Steve Scherl/Drew Clarke. Steve's programme was the measurement of the earth's magnetic field by a magnetometer towed by the Porter. About 8000 km of profiles were run from Mawson to Molodezhnaya and from the coast about 69<deg> south. A second part of Steve's programme was to collect rock samples from dykes in the bedrock to measure the direction of magnetism of the rock in the dykes and hence to find the direction of the earth's magnetic field when the rock type was formed.

Geodesy and Mapping - National Mapping - Drew Clarke/Barry Sloane. Aims were to determine positions of a number of locations to control aerial photography for mapping and to strengthen the geodectic network from which the shape of the local earth can be derived. Drew and Barry used a Doppler satellite receiver and generally worked with "D" and Snakey. The J.M.R. (Doppler satellite receiver) gives data from which the ground stations location relative to the U.S. navigation satellites can be very precisely found. Knowing details of the satellite orbits the absolute positions of the ground station can be found.

The camp was initially supplied by tractor train from Mawson - Rex Burchell, Mike Knox-Little (KL), Wayne Schocker (Shocks), Adrian Blake (A-drain), Barry Vince, Peter Dawson (DOM), Ron Sherwood (Shaggy) and Peter Magill (Noddy) - all 1979 party. KL, Shocks and A-drain remained at Mt King to set up the camp and join the Enderby party while the rest brought the tractor train back to Mawson to reload with a second supply of fuel for Mt King. The second traverse party was Brutus, Shane Rollins (1979 - Rolly), Noddy (1979), Bernie Keogh (1979), John Forrester (1979 - Forro), Phredd, Snoopy and Rusty who arrived at Mt King on 2nd January with stocks of desperately needed fuel.

Meanwhile the Mt King party had been flown in from the Nella Dan or Mawson: Godfather, Ian Anderson (Met forecaster), Andy Lark (Sparrow - 1979 medical Officer), 50/50, Dave Hardy (1979 Chef), Mike Holmes (1979 Met Obs), Weather, John Caswell (1979 Radio Tech). In all 42 people worked out at Mt King at various times.

Despite really filthy weather from about the 10th January to about the 10th February a very successful programme was completed. Evacuation of returning field workers was started on the 18th February and finished on the 25th February. Father, Jumbo and Magus flew in to replace Phredd, who was injured, Forro, Bernie, Rolly and Noddy who were going home. Brutus, Weather, Rusty, Snoopy, Jumbo, Father, Magus and Big D dismantled the Mt King camp and brought it back to Mawson and arrived on 12th April.

Highlights of the stay at Mt King would be beautiful sunsets/sunrises, the ice fog rolling up the glacial valley from Amundsen Bay; ice crystals growing on ropes and poles in dead calm nights; "news in charades" by McGinty, Scarlet Ayatollah and later Ashley Lewis; Vic Barkell's Christmas menus; A-drains hot air balloon and the elaborate preparation to fly it; the visit to Molodezhnaya and the return flight with wind forcing drift over the mountain to a height of 3000 metres and the aircraft making 17 knots ground speed before bolting onto the ground at Amundsen Bay; John Marsden's attempt to find a landing spot to get Phredd out of Mt Dungey. On the other side of the coin there was a sad accident when Bruce flew his helicopter into the ground in white-out.

All round a very profitable season, thus enjoyed by all.