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Diary 2

Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Field Trip Name: 
Field Trip Place: 
Scott Base
Fine -7 degrees Celsius

diary cam video

Watch Shelley's diary cam video

Kia ora koutou,

A thick layer of fog smothered Scott Base this morning making it difficult to see beyond the surrounding buildings. Luckily you could stay warm and cosy indoors during the first audioconference. 

Question time

Willowbank School and Te Akau ki Papamoa Primary School had lots of questions for Lizzie Meek from the Antarctic Heritage Trust. Lizzie is the artefacts programme manager and has been working with the Trust since 2008 when she spent a year here in Antarctica. Lizzie returns to the ice every summer to work on conserving the artefacts found in the historic huts. It was interesting to hear about her experiences and you can find out more by listening to the recorded audioconference.

Meet the team

Following the audioconference, you headed out to where the Antarctic Heritage Trust is working. The Trust works out of portable containers which are well insulated and heated. Lizzie introduced you to some members of the team and talked about the work that the Trust does to restore and maintain the historic huts in the Ross Sea area. This work includes conservation of all the items found in the huts. 

Sue and Ciaran are object conservators and they have been working on artefacts found in the TAE hut. Both Sue and Ciaran had studied science and worked in places all over the world before coming to Antarctica. It was amazing to see some of the objects they were working on and how careful they must be. You also met Al Fastier who manages hut restoration. You may remember Al from the Expedition South tractor journey. Al led this journey from Piha to Aoraki Mount Cook on vintage tractors to raise money to restore Hillary’s hut in Antarctica. You can watch the videos from this trip. It was great to catch up with Al and see how the funds raised are being used to restore the hut. Watch the video to learn more about the work done by the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

The Trans-Antarctic Expedition TAE

Lizzie took you over to check out the work that’s being done on the outside of the TAE hut and explained the importance of the hut. The TAE hut is named after the Trans-Antarctic Expedition and is also known as Hillary’s hut. This expedition aimed to complete a tractor crossing of Antarctica via the South Pole. The expedition was divided into two teams. The Crossing Party started at the Weddell Sea while Hillary’s Ross Sea Party started from the opposite side. Hillary’s team were to mark a route and lay depots for the Crossing Party to use on the second half of the journey. After these depots were put in place Hillary decided to carry on to the South Pole, beating the Crossing Party by 16 days. You can find out more about the Trans-Antarctic Expedition by reading the background page.

The International Geophysical Year IGY

The Trans-Antarctic Expedition also involved scientific work. This science was part of a yearlong world-wide focus on science and Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY). You can find out more about the IGY by reading the background page. The hut that Hillary and his Ross Sea team built later became Scott Base – New Zealand’s only permanent base in Antarctica. This year Scott Base celebrates its 60th birthday, so it’s great to look back on how it all started. It was also quite inspiring to think about Hillary’s team and how they organised their journey to the South Pole. 

Hillary’s Hut

Sadly Hillary’s Hut has been badly affected by years of extreme cold, wind, snow build up and melt. The roof has been leaking and now the hut needs repairing. Thankfully the Antarctic Heritage Trust has come to the rescue and is working hard to restore this historic building. You could see Geoff and Doug working on the hut roof, while asbestos is being removed inside. Asbestos was used to line the walls. Asbestos is no longer used in building because it is made from fibres that can cause lung cancer. These fibres are only a problem if they are disturbed and breathed in. Experts wearing masks and a protective suit are removing the asbestos so you weren’t allowed inside the hut. You can watch the videos about restoring the hut. 

One of the biggest challenges of restoring the hut is making sure that this work doesn’t damage the environment. The asbestos is being carefully bagged and will be shipped back to the Kate Valley Landfill in Christchurch for disposal. You may have seen this landfill in the Love Your Rubbish field trip. The hut will be painted its original orange and yellow colour so all the old paint must be removed. This will be done using an enclosure to trap all the old paint flakes so they don’t end up polluting Antarctica. It was clear to see just how much effort is being put into restoring the hut and caring for the pristine environment of Antarctica.

Over the next few days you will find out more about other historic huts in Antarctica and how they are restored. Tomorrow you will visit the oldest hut in the Ross Sea Area, Scott’s Discovery Hut.

See you then,

Shelley the LEARNZ field trip teacher.

Shelley meets Sue, an object conservator from the Antarctic Heritage Trust. What does Sue's job involve. Image: LEARNZ.

Ciaran works on restoring an object from Hillary's Hut. Image: LEARNZ.

Hillary's Hut is being restored by the Antarctic Heritage Trust. Why is this hut important and worth restoring? Image: LEARNZ.

The roof of Hillary's Hut is being fixed and restored to its original colour. What colour was the hut orignally? Image: LEARNZ.

Doug and Geoff are replacing boards on the roof. You can see the black sealant that they have added to stop water from getting under the board. Image: LEARNZ.

Lizzie tells Shelley about the asbestos being removed from the hut. Why do you think the asbestos has to be removed? Image: LEARNZ.

Matt is suited up ready to enter Hillary's Hut to safely remove asbestos. Image: LEARNZ.

Take a look through one of the windows in Hillary's Hut to see where asbestos is being removed from the walls. Image: LEARNZ.

Bags of asbestos will be shipped back to New Zealand for disposal. Image: LEARNZ.