Friday, October 27, 2017

Life Under the South Pole in the Ice Tunnels

The ice tunnels were carved by huge machines over a three year summer period starting in 1999. A large area was dug out of the ice to the depth of 80 feet. An ice mining machine and team from Australia were then employed to dig the various tunnels that are used to carry water, sewer, and electrical lines. The main tunnel extends 1,850 feet. There are also five cross tunnels up to 200 feet each. It can be a bit claustrophobic and it reeks of sewage gas.

The ice tunnels entrance.
These tunnels are cut out of solid polar ice and act as utility corridors for sewage, water, power and heat.

The ceiling is cool.

The approximately 3000 feet of ice tunnels are 60-80 feet under the South Pole.

At one point raw sewage is literally dumped into an old Rodwell (previous water source) cavern. Thousands of years from now this frozen waste will calve off into the ocean.

I wrote this in 2013!

Ice block storage whenever something new is added and space cut away.

There are also a number of shrines commemorating various groups and events at the South Pole.
A very old fish caught in McMurdo Sound.

If the tunnels ever collapsed and you were nowhere near an escape exit it would be a long and painful death.

Climbing 80 feet out of this in total darkness could be tough. There are four of these emergency exits. In the winter you would exit outside in total black.
This is one of the emergency exits I showed two posts ago.

There must be a story here somewhere.

I didn't know that liquor froze but it does. That is three shots of frozen scotch.

Some parts appear to be bowed in.

At a constant -53F this is the warmest place at the South Pole at 80 feet under. 

A very unique Valentine's card.

I turned off the lights. This is a friend's headlamp.

A sculpture of Roald Amundsen of Norway. His team first reached the South Pole in December 1911.
An assortment of memories left in the tunnels.

Buzz Aldrin was here last summer. He had a medical evacuation due to severe altitude sickness.

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