Logbook entry: Shooting gallery sampling trip (2015-11-29) at Shooting gallery

About happenings on Nov. 29, 2015, Tehnuka Ilanko wrote:

Returned to ITR – had to drive through cloud – did not smell plume but felt humid. Parked right next to yesterday’s sampling sites on N side of ITR. Tobias went to crimp Cu tubes and pick up the pump in Passage. Lyra took a GPS point at the entrance of Passage: 11580 ft; 1.7 miles from hut; 77 deg 32.009’ S and 167 deg 06.400’E.

Lyra and I went into Blob to start CO2 flux measurements but CO2 meter had problems. It was stuck on checking zero and after turning off and on, was too cold even though Tobias had started it up before leaving and put it inside his big red for the skidoo ride. I made a very rough sketch of the Blob (EW about 4.5 m and NS about 3.4 m from rocks at back to nearest ice overhang) and estimated a grid for flux measurements. Much of the entrance side was covered in snow/fallen ice so we stayed within a couple of metres of the back, where a rock wall seemed to be the source of most of the heat (up to 16-17C) and CO2. I tried putting the flux meter in my little red but it was still stuck on 41C. Lyra eventually put the meter in her down jacket and it warmed up. Tobias took CO2 flux at the site of the soil probe, where temperature was 16.8C. I made a grid with 11 points (check against sketch). Points 1 and 2 were low temp (4.2C & 9.2C) and I did not take temperature at other spots. We took an additional flux point (no. 12) at the very back right side of the cave, but flux was low. We also took vial samples through the flux meter at three sites along the back wall of the cave (3,5,7).

Tobias took down the soil probe and pump system but realised later the pump had not been running. He swapped in for a new battery and I later installed that pump in a larger chamber of Shooting gallery with the soil probe from passage. The pump that was not working may have been because it was at a low flow rate – bubbling through tea, via the needle for the vial, or just through the tubing, did not show any flow. He turned up the pump before I took it further in.

While Tobias was working with the pump and soil probe in Blob, I went with Lyra into another passageway to the south of the open ‘courtyard’ (that leads to Blob if you turn right). There are two passages on the left – one lower and one that climbs up then down, but both connect up. There is then an ice crystal-covered crawlspace through which there I could access what we believe is the main part of Shooting gallery. There do not appear to be any other currently open entrances, although it looks as if there may have once been one through an ice wall on the south side of ITR. There is a large main chamber, the floor of which is rock, crystal, and soil. It extends down and across towards the opposite side of ITR (probably S or SW) where that old entrance may have been.

Returning to the up-and-down slope that accesses the slide-in entrance to SG, Lyra and I also proceeded uphill on the west side of the slope. This is a crawl and I found a very small hole to the left that I crawled/squeezed through – it was a bit of a drop into a larger passage that Lyra had walked around into by exiting the entrance.

From here I could walk (I think N? and E?) to where Lyra had entered, via another hole between Blob and the SGG up-and-down slope entrance we had taken, but could also crawl up behind Blob a short way. I got to a spot that was just an ice chimney – crystals top and bottom. They narrowed upwards and I didn’t try to break through in case it all caved in, but crawled back down, and into Blob instead. Later, I put in a soil probe on the far side of the big SG chamber from its local entrance after the slide in (guessing the W wall) but did not take CO2 fluxes and did not go back into the extension. There are also two smaller passageways uphill from the large chamber (to the left from the chamber entrance) which connect. I looked in but did not crawl around much – Lyra did, and felt ill (possibly due to compressing the soil and releasing CO2?) Soil is very soft and probably worth me returning to put in a soil probe.

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