The Seismic Caves

Jan. 20, 2012

Antonio, and Italian member of the European Space Agency, gave Simon and I a tour of Concordia’s ‘seismic cave’. This isn’t a cave as much as a laboratory buried 20 meters beneath the snow surface within the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The lab measures Earth’s acceleration and vibrations across the planet, and it’s better to have the equipment buried deep underground in order to separate the vibrations from other interference on the snow surface, such as planes landing or people driving skidoos nearby. The temperatures are much colder underground at this time of year (the outside temperature is currently around -40C/-40F, but it is -55C/-67F in the cave), but since the cave keeps that -55C temp all year round, it will be warmer here in the winter than the outside -80C/-112F freeze possible here on the high plateau.To get to the cave, first we climb down a hatch at the snow’s surface, then walk down a few underground ice tunnels before reaching a series of ladders that lead us down to the seismic equipment. It was very dark in the tunnels, so I had to flash lot of light for these photos, and the video is quite dark, too.

DCIM100GOPROTunnels towards the seismic labs


I’ve included a video of Antonio showing us the narrow underground lab. Since it was so cold, my camera started malfunctioning, so I’ve included captions to help overcome the weak audio in this clip. (You’ll probably have to adjust your volume for this.)

–  seismiccavepicMy frozen eyelashes after talking to Antonio in the underground lab


Posted on 2012, in -Season 2: Life on the High Plateau, 2013 (01/20) The Seismic Caves. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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