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Astrophysics Science Division | Sciences and Exploration

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TIGER in Antarctica, November 21, 2003

Williams (Willy) Field

Mount Erebus On most of the days I've been down here so far, clouds have shrouded the peak of Mount Erebus, the 3794 meter tall (12,448 feet) active volcano that dominates Ross Island. Today it is clear and Erebus is smoking away, so I thought I should post a new picture. Looking back at the journal from last trip, it was exactly two years ago today that I posted that journal's picture of Mt. Erebus. Erebus is the southernmost active volcano on Earth and is unusual is several different ways. It is one of only a few volcanoes that has a permanent roiling lava pool in the caldera. It also has a magma composition that is unusual, which has two consequences. Some of the lava bombs are amazingly porous, sort of like pumice, but much more plastic-looking and flowing. I'll try and take a picture of a sample they have at Crary Lab. There is also a type of crystal that Erebus creates that is not found elsewhere.

Looking at Mount Erebus from Willy Field

Free Willy Sign Coming up to Williams (Willy) field, there is this Welcome Sign. Williams Field was named after Navy Machinist Mate Warren Williams, who lost his life out here when his bulldozer crashed through the ice.

In this picture, just to the right of the bulldozer, is the top of the Pig Barn. At about 40 feet high, it is mostly below the level of the ice shelf now. The Weatherport that we are working in is just on the near side of the Pig Barn in this picture, but being only about 20 feet high, is completely below ground level (you can't see the dug out crater that lets us get to the Pig Barn and Weatherport).

Welcome Sign at Willy Field

escaping The back side of the Willy Field Welcome sign has this warning. Practical jokes and signs are quite common down here (as is true anywhere there are smart, bored people). The road to Willy also has had a Kangaroo Crossing sign (although I think it's gone now). I suspect that one was due to our Campaign Manager from the National Scientific Balloon Facility, David Sullivan, who's an Aussie.
Back Side of Willy Welcome Sign


Dr. Eric R. Christian
Washington, DC 20546 USA
This page was last modified on November 22, 2003