Antarctic Fieldwork Movies

Undertaking field campaigns in Antarctica is challenging because of the harsh weather conditions and remote nature of accessing the blue ice field sites. We worked with the British Antarctic Survey to deploy us to and support us at the Outer Recovery Icefields and Hutchison Icefields. Below are some movies of the field campaigns captured by a Go Pro 360 camera – hopefully they give a good flavor of what it is like to be a meteorite hunter in Antarctica. The movies are available in HD, and if you follow the links you can select and drag the YouTube interface to look in different directions. Image credits are Katherine Joy / The University of Manchester.

Season 1 – January 2019

Lost Meteorites of Antarctica – camp life. Life around the camp site at the Outer Recovery Icefield on the 2018-2019 Lost Meteorites of Antarctica field campaign. The larger pyramid shaped orange tent (known as a Scott tent) is our accommodation tent where we sleep, rest and cook food. The smaller red tent is the bathroom tent. The flags around camp help to mark out the various camp components – important when there is a storm and your belongings start to get buried by snow drifts – they also help us judge the wind speed. This camp site is in an area of minimal topography – there are no rocky mountains to be seen in view, only small (10-50 cm tall) ridges of hardened blown snow called sastrugi. When living in this alien landscape without colour and features to give scale it becomes to get a sense of perspective and distances become hard to judge. Video captured by Katherine Joy using a GoPro 360: grab the screen to look around the view in different directions.

Lost Meteorites of Antarctica – open ice field searching. Meteorite scientist Dr Katherine Joy (driving with white hat and yellow jacket) and field guide Julie Baum (in distance) hunting for meteorites on snow mobiles. Here we are undertaking a random pattern search where we quickly scan over the ice surface with the goal of covering as much surface area as possible to see if we can spot any meteorites. This type of search is normally carried out before a more careful systematic search pattern is followed. The ice in this area is rippled with ridges of ice about 20 cm peak to peak – in this area we had had some recent light snowfall which has in filled the troughs between the peaks. Snow cover is pretty disasterous for meteorite hunting in icefields as the snow covers up all the small stones – unsurprisingly we didn’t locate any materials on this day of searching in Jan 2019, however, when we returned and searched this site systematically in Jan 2020 (when there was no snow cover on the blue ice) we found 8 meteorite samples. Video captured by Katherine Joy (yellow top) using a GoPro 360: grab the screen to look around the view in different directions.

Lost Meteorites of Antarctica – open ice field searching. Meteorite scientist Dr Katherine Joy (driving) and field guide Julie Baum (in distance) hunting for meteorites on snow mobiles in the Hutchison Icefields. The rocky hillside seen in the movie background is Turner Nunatak. Video captured by Katherine Joy (yellow top) using a GoPro 360: grab the screen to look around the view in different directions.

Lost Meteorites of Antarctica – meteorite on ice find. Meteorite scientist Dr Katherine Joy (in orange top) and field guide Julie Baum (in yellow top) hunting for meteorites on snow mobiles following a more systematic search patterned where we drive about 10 metres apart. They spot a black rock on the ice – a meteorite! The sample is collected and returned to the UK for classification. Video captured by Katherine Joy (orange top) using a GoPro 360: grab the screen to look around the view in different directions.

Season 2 – 2019-2020

Lost Meteorites of Antarctica – Systematic searching. Field party systematically searching at Outer Recovery Icefields site in the 2019-2020 field season. Dr Katherine Joy is driving below the camera view, Dr Romain Tartese is on the middle track and field guide Taff Raymond is in the right hand (distant) position. The three of us on this team drive in straight lines keeping a constant distance from each other to cover as much ground as possible in a grid search pattern. We are turning our heads from side to side to visually inspect the ice surface for meteorites. Video captured by a GoPro 360: grab the screen to look around the view in different directions.

Lost Meteorites of Antarctica – Searching for sub-surface meteorites with the detection panels. Meteorite scientists Dr Romain Tartese and Dr Katherine Joy towing the sub-surface meteorite metal-detector panel equipment at the Outer Recovery Icefields in January 2020. Romain is towing the five panel detector array and Katherine drives a single panel detector setup. This movie was shot the day after we had had a few cm of snowfall meaning that the normally blue ice surface was covered with snow. This worked really well for the detection panel array as we could clearly see where we had driven from the drag marks left in the snow. Video captured by Katherine Joy using a GoPro 360: grab the screen to look around the view in different directions.

Lost Meteorites of Antarctica – Searching for sub-surface meteorites with a hand held-metal detector. The snow mobile deployed metal detector panel equipment provides us with an indication that there is a metal object buried beneath the ice surface (in the movie below you can see a snowmobile with a deployed panel in the rear of the shot). However, to pin point the exact location of the metal object detected, we need to carry out a slower foot search using a hand held metal detector. In this video Dr Geoff Evatt (blue overalls) searches the ice using a hand held metal detector in January 2020 at the Outer Recovery Icefield site. Video captured by Katherine Joy (orange top) using a GoPro 360: grab the screen to look around the view in different directions.