HomeUncategorized11-06-08:How Are Ice Caves Formed?

My good friend Micky asked how the ice caves formed. (Thanks – and now everyone can learn from your questions!

The caves are formed because of the physical nature of glaciers, gravity makes them move!. During this moving process, some areas move faster than others. On top of that, the Erebus Glacier Tongue is a floating tidewater glacier so it is subjected to water characteristics as well as gravity; tides, currents, water temperatures, etc.

The “caves” we have are not actually caves per say, but rather crevasses that have a re-frozen sea water floor to walk. Some glaciers have actual caves that form due to air circulating at the toe or along the edge. The current “cave” was formed by the stored (potential) energy created by the glacier not being able to move forward beyond the previous end due to the sea ice not blowing out. With seven years of stored energy and the sea ice/open water edge receding south of the Erebus Glacier Tongue, a massive amount of kinetic energy released, the glacier surged forward, and large chunks of ice broke off. Once this all settled, the toe of the glacier had the solid vertical wall of blue ice that we now see and a small portion folded forward to create the crack or crevasse that we walk into. The fold could very well be connected below the water surface.  (Think of holding a candy bar at both ends and slowly bending the ends toward each other, you will have “crevassing” on the top surface.

Last night – I did another tour of the cave.  Our group of 21(including 2 guides and a driver) was a little late getting started – which meant it was pretty late when I got ‘home’ last night! I think it was around 11:30 PM before I settled into my little bed.  It was slightly painful to get up and head to work by 5:30AM!  I couldn’t figure out why my body was so stiff and sore, then I realized how many times I went up and down the cave entrance – which does involve some crawling on hands and knees!!!  Naturally, I was scheduled to drive IVAN the TERRA bus at 5:30 – and that gave me another work out!

Remember when we go places around here, there is a major process involved.  As guide – I had to make sure everyone had their ECW gear – especially the bunny boots or equivalent . (You would be surprised at some who show up in TENNIS SHOES.) Extra socks… extra gloves… extra EVERYTHING!  PLUS… we load up the delta with the 2 or 3 days of FOOD for 21… the “human waste” bucket (I already posted a photo of that!) and  then hook the sled onto the back which has tents, sleeping bags, cook stoves, etc. in case we break down and have to spend the night out on the sea ice!  All of that has to be UNpacked after each trip.    I am signed up to do it again next week.

I think I mentioned I have Monday’s off again. EXCEPT – I will be filling in for one of the new drivers who wants to try out for the SAR (Search and Rescue) Team.  I will now have most of tomorrow off – EXCEPT – they needed someone to come in for a couple of hours in the afternoon, so I volunteered.   I can rest later…. only 4 months to enjoy here!

I’m ready to drop, so will end now.  Hopefully, I can scan through the 200 photos I have and find some worth sharing with you all….TOMORROW.


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