Scott Base and Pressure Ridges

The ROSETTA-Ice team had their first full day off on Sunday and everyone was eager to get out and explore McMurdo, after catching up on much needed sleep.

I went to Scott Base, the New Zealand station, which is about a 3.6 mile walk across the ice from McMurdo.

Scott Base.
Scott Base.

Scott Base is much smaller than McMurdo Station, home to about 100 residents as opposed to 1,000 (as of yesterday, 913). Residents from McMurdo are not allowed in Scott Base unless by invitation, though, they will let you spend money in their (arguably better) gift shop and sell you a drink; shuttles to Scott Base every Thursday night are popular for those looking for a livelier nightlife. However, Scott Base residents do have free reign in McMurdo. In my opinion, Scott Base is generally a much prettier station. It includes a breathtaking view of the Pressure Ridges, sits by the wind farm, and the buildings are all painted the same green color. I mean, whoever designed the buildings in McMurdo could have tried a little harder.

That night I took a two hour tour of the Pressure Ridges.

Pressure Ridges.

Pressure ridges form when the ice sheet and sea ice hit converge and meet land, and they fluctuate with the tides. Tours are always different as tidal forces vary, and so the structure can change quite spectacularly.

Castle Rock in the distance, with Mt. Erebus to the right.
Castle Rock (left) and Mt. Erebus (right), beyond the Pressure Ridges. 

I was utterly amazed by both the architecture of the ice and the wildlife among the ridges. By wildlife, I am really just speaking of seals and skuas…penguins do not inhabit this part of Antarctica. When penguins are seen around McMurdo they are usually lost and, sadly, probably will not make very far before dying. We saw many seals, and even witnessed a seal dive into a hole in the ice!

Mama seal and her pup.

* No three-letter acronyms were used when writing this post *

Published by Alec

Hi. My name is Alec Lockett, and I am senior, geology major. I grew up in Belmont, MA, and chose Colorado College primarily because of the block plan, the rad location, and the awesome vibes I got from the students; I cannot imagine such a wonderful four years at another school. For my senior thesis, I will use airborne gravity and magnetic data from the ROSETTA-Ice 2015-2016 surveys to investigate two cross-Ross Ice Shelf transects in West Antarctica for geophysical modeling. ROSETTA-Ice (A systems approach to understanding the Ross Ocean and Ice Shelf Environment, and Tectonic setting Through Aerogeophysical surveys and modelling) is a current project that is acquiring geophysical data over the Ross Ice Shelf through airborne collection. I have the extraordinary opportunity to participate in this field data collection. When I am not busy geologizing, I enjoy reading, watching films, spending time outside whether skiing or biking, and drinking coffee.

6 replies on “Scott Base and Pressure Ridges”

  1. These pictures bring everything so close and make everything feel so alive! What’s the temp there these days?

      1. As your brother always says, “I learned how to be cold at Jay!” Ha – that’s a balmy ski day for us. Enjoy the sun and cold – how delightful!!

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