REPORT COVERING THE ACTIVITIES OF SURVEYOR AT MAWSON 1962.
(Retyped by David Carstens June 2012 and April 2018 and completed June 2020)
Synopsis of Carstens’ tour of duty with NATMAP and ANARE, 1960 to 1963.
Joined National Mapping as Surveyor at Mawson 1961.
Training and preparation in Melbourne, including Astronomy practical at Army School of Survey, Balcombe.
With the loss of aircraft at Mawson in December 1960 the appointment was changed to the Summer Voyage to Mawson for Hydrographic Surveys with OIC Antarctic Mapping Branch, Commander D’Arcy (Tom) Gale.
Travelling on Thala Dan from January to March 1961.
Visited Russian Station, Mirny, Hydrographic Survey at Davis, then Hydrographic Survey at Mawson, minor Station duties, then by ship to Enderby Land with two astrofixes, one at 44° East, in Norwegian Territory and one at 46° East, at Thala Hills. Full report of this voyage is published as an ANARE Report by Voyage Leader Don Styles, ANARE REPORTS, SERIES A, Volume 1.
Separated from National Mapping in April, returned to Warwick Queensland to work for Consulting Engineer, then rejoined National Mapping in October, for a revised program in 1962.
Training and preparation in Melbourne, October to December 1961, including Tellurometer Study at Army School of Survey, Balcombe.
Departed for Antarctica in January on Nella Dan (maiden voyage).
Then in 1962, as contained in this main report : Tellurometer at Mawson for Quadrilateral; revisit Tellurometer stations for marking and reading vertical angles after the ship departed; level traverse Mawson to Rumdoodle; field training trip to Twintop; islands triangulation; Station duties and setting out for radio aerials; Church Mountain Dog trip, two astrofixes; Amery route establishment traverse with leap frog barometric heighting (giving good results); Amery west edge survey, and discovery of Trost Rocks. At this same time Glaciologist did traverse along centre of the Shelf.
The final field excursion was to do an astrofix at Anniversary Nunatak, just before the ship arrived.
Then on the way to Davis, Phil Law and I did a radar mapping exercise of the front of the Amery Ice Shelf, strengthened by an astrofix at a recognisable site. This showed a forward movement of the Ice Shelf of five miles over five years when compared with a Russian astrofix in the same recognisable place.
Some Hydrographic work was attempted at Mawson and at Davis but was unsuccessful due to wind and waves.
Report (text as reproduced in June 2020)
The work at Mawson during the 1962 Expedition involved a variety of projects. The projects outlined in the Instructions to Surveyors were implemented and carried out to substantial stages of completion. In addition, other duties in the capacity of Surveyor were carried out, the most significant of these being the Amery Ice Shelf Explorations and the Dog Sledge Journey to Church Mountain.
Along the same pattern as previous years much time is taken up in routine sharing of duties for the running and maintenance of the Station.
The main Survey activities during the term of appointment are listed below :
Preparation in Melbourne.
Ship Voyage South, Soundings and Track Charts.
Short Field Training Exercise.
Levelling from Mawson to Mountains Inland.
Islands, Triangulation and Permanent Marking.
Dog Sledge Journey.
Amery Ice Shelf Journey.
Anniversary Nunatak Journey.
Ship Voyage Home, Soundings, Track Chart and Mapping.
Compilation of Results.
The report for 1962 was written in Brisbane, Queensland, after ceasing work with National Mapping and taking up an appointment with the Electricity Industry in Queensland. This report was delivered to OIC, Antarctic Mapping Branch in Melbourne.
In reproducing this report in 2020 additional information has been added as an Appendix, an Addendum to the report, suggesting future use of Tellurometers, is included as a precis; and a Synopsis of the activity of Surveyor Carstens from 1960 to 1963 is added above.
Preparation in Melbourne
I took up duties with the Division of National Mapping on 25 October 1961, and worked in Melbourne until the departure of the ship on 4 January 1962. During this period, time was devoted to preparation and training for the forthcoming year. The Indoctrination Lectures given by ANARE were attended, and, as arranged by the Division of National Mapping with the School of Military Survey, a course of instruction on Tellurometer Electronic Distance Measuring Equipment was attended.
Much other Administrative and Technical information was looked into, and the time was fully occupied.
The knowledge and experience gained during the previous journey to Antarctica, January to March 1961, on the Thala Dan, proved invaluable in assessing the requirements for the year to follow. In addition to this the information from previous reports was digested and much first hand knowledge was collected from old hands, more particularly in relation to the colder months.
Ship’s Voyage South
Our party departed from Melbourne on the Nella Dan on 4 January 1962. Mr DF Styles was Expedition Leader and Captain HC Peterson in charge of the Nella Dan.
On the voyage the work of plotting the track chart south of latitude 60°S, and the recording of soundings when the ship’s echo sounder could indicate the bottom, was carried out. The track chart was kept using the information from the ship’s navigation sheets. The echo sounder was capable of recording depths while over the continental shelf, and whilst sailing in such waters a roster of observers, drawn from the scientific personnel, operated the recorder.
The first port of call was Davis Station and here the changeover proceeded before we sailed to Mawson. At Davis, some minor setting out work, in connection with the building program, was carried out.
The Davis changeover was completed on 23 January 1962 and we headed for Mawson.
The ship arrived at Mawson on 25 January 1962.
Although the normal procedure when a ship arrives at an Antarctic Station is for all hands to assist in the unloading, regardless of any other work commitments, the exception was made in the case of the Tellurometer survey, and work commenced immediately to obtain measurements.
Robert (Bob) Goldsworthy, Field Assistant with National Mapping, was a member of the expedition for the three months round trip and was operator for the remote Tellurometer station. The additional manpower required on each survey station was provided from expedition personnel.
Altogether, five lines of average length ten miles were measured. establishing a quadrilateral with one brace, connecting the islands near Mawson to the Mountain Ranges ten miles inland. One of the Tellurometer measurements was read from both ends (which required swapping Master and Remote Tellurometer instruments which was an additional day’s work). This line, between Bechervaise and Rookery Islands, provided a check on the accuracy of the previous island’s triangulation work. The Tellurometer measurement was within three (3) inches of the value determined by Armstrong in 1959.
The Tellurometer was returned to Australia on the ship as it was required for work in Australia during the field season of 1962. The ship departed Mawson on 15 February 1962.
The full Tellurometer report may be read via this link.
Short Field Training Exercise
While the ship is at the Station, working hours are stretched to the limit to achieve the maximum amount of organisation while so many men are available. After the ship leaves there remains much to be done to settle in and consolidate the Station.
At all times one is called upon to bear a share of domestic duties involved in running the Station. After the departure of the ship, there are stores to be stacked, finishing touches to be put to construction carried out during the change-over, etc.
At this stage the duty roster for Nightwatch and Mess Duty comes into full force. This means that once every twenty-three days one has a Mess Duty and once every twenty-four days, Nightwatch. The Cook does not do Mess Duty as the purpose is to assist the cook with washing up, setting of tables and keeping the kitchen clean.
Nightwatch duty entails attention to the safety of the Station while the others are sleeping, stoking of the heating fires and other routine work.
Both these jobs involve almost a whole day lost for normal work.
During the settling down stage, preparations were made for a practical exercise in field travel. Those likely to be involved in field traverses during the year were included in these preparations. The trip afforded practice in handling equipment and navigation.
The destination of this journey was Mount Twintop, about forty miles inland and at an elevation of 1213 metres.
This trip departed on 8 March and returned on 12 March 1963. A Weasel was used as navigation and scout vehicle and the two Tractor Trains were hauled by D4 Tractors. Sledge loads of stores were deposited at Mount Twintop to decrease the load up the steep slopes from Mawson, for subsequent trips.
This was a profitable journey, experience-wise, and from the navigation a route was provided indicating the latest track through the region. This track, as finally located on the 1:10,000 scale map sheet (in production 1963) is the best possible and safest track known to date, being the result of experience gained since 1957.
Levelling from Mawson to Mountains Inland
On return from the journey mentioned in the previous section, a start was made on the levelling to connect the bench mark at Mawson to the rock features ten miles inland, across the blue ice of the plateau. This was commenced in conjunction with the Glaciologist, Ian Landon-Smith. A traverse line, of intervisible points, was marked out, using long bamboos sunk six feet into the ice. These canes served as Ablation Stakes for the Glaciologist and change-points and reference marks for the levelling traverse. This marked line connected Mawson to the north part of the North Masson Range where a bench mark was established on the base of Rumdoodle Peak.
The weather was becoming colder at this stage, and the starting of a vehicle in the morning proved to be a major task and also a great time waster. At times a day’s work was lost due to the length of time spent starting an engine. Neither of the engines of the two Snow Tracs on the Station ran well and the Weasel had unreliable tracks.
As the station mechanics were involved in important overhauls of electric power plant, I decided that the only remedy was to work on the overhaul of the motor myself, under guidance of the senior mechanic. The time spent on this overhaul, a fortnight, proved its value for the remainder of the year’s work, including the traverse to the Amery Ice Shelf. I had a most reliable vehicle available which was well understood mechanically. With a cold starting technique mastered, very little further trouble was experienced from this problem.
For the levelling work, I must express my appreciation to all the Station for their assistance. Staffmen volunteered from day to day as their own work allowed them time away. Without this help nothing could have been achieved. The work of holding and managing the levelling staff on this job was most difficult and was a particularly cold job. We worked in temperatures as low as -17°F; normal temperature was about 0°F.
The levelling traverse ceased as daylight hours became too short. The levelling was completed between Mawson and Rumdoodle (connections were made at Rumdoodle from the level traverse to the adjacent Tellurometer station established in January).
Fuller details of the levelling procedure are covered in the report on the levelling available via the following link.
Triangulation : Extension Northwards, and Permanent Marking
Work on the levelling and associated plateau work ceased about 19 May 1962, and the shorter daylight hours were used to commence the extensions of the triangulation of the islands north of Mawson to take in the group of small islands sixteen miles north of Mawson at about 67°24′S and 62°47′E.
As the daylight shortened further approaching midwinter, the range of travel was more limited and the permanent marking of the closer islands, which are already included in the triangulation net, was attended to.
The island work depended on the formation of the sea ice and its continued reliability. It was necessary to limit travel to points well north to days of calm weather with a favourable forecast. Although breakouts of the sea ice had been reported in most months in previous years, the ice did remain stable throughout the winter in 1962. The ice formed early in April and became unsafe for travel at the end of October. With these limiting conditions, coupled with speed of vehicles, average 5 MPH, it was not possible to prove every line before observing the required angles, and consequently it often happened that a sight was obscured by an iceberg, spoiling a figure for calculation. However sufficient rays were obtained to fix the relative positions of the unmapped islands. These results are recorded in the usual form in Melbourne. Some of this work was sped up by the use of an old motorcycle fitted with a sidecar, privately owned. This equipment could travel at 20 to 30 MPH on most sea ice surfaces close to the coast. The motorcycle bogged easily in soft snow patches which occurred about five miles from the coast. The bike was used successfully on snow with temperatures -20°F to -30°F because the snow was harder then.
Eight repetitions were aimed at on each station for all angles, but under adverse weather conditions this was reduced to as little as two. It was not possible to revisit these stations at which the angular work has been so limited.
Permanent marks were placed on all new stations established, both ground marks and beacons. Also, permanent marks were placed at all the stations of Armstrong’s triangulation of 1959, hitherto marked by paint marks on the rock and/or a forty-four gallon drum filled with rock.
The placing of fixed ground marks, in the form of brass marks or something similar, fixed into the rock is a major operation. Notes on the method employed, using mechanical rock drill, primus and sulphur etc has been made separately.
This permanent marking work fitted into the short daylight period when travel was possible, but there was insufficient light for observing.
Four new stations were established and the twelve original stations marked.
[Note added in 2020 : This work extended the network by 5 miles, to a total of 16 miles out to sea. The two new beacons erected consisted of four forty-four gallon drums, welded together and standing four drums high. Each beacon was held by steel wire guys anchored to pins solidly fixed into the rock.]
It is interesting to commit to paper that the traditional long midwinter evening of Antarctica does not really exist at Mawson. Although the sun does not rise for about a fortnight, there is always at least five hours twilight during which activity outside huts is quite possible.
For about a fortnight either side of midwinter day, no survey work was attempted, but permanent marks were placed on closer islands and the chance was taken to catch up on office work.
Planning for summer field journeys was also attended to.
Dog Sledge Journey : Church Mountain and Mount Rivett
The purpose of the trip was to establish ground control at the two mountain features 100 miles east of Mawson, Church Mountain and Mount Rivett.
Travelling with two dog teams, our party consisted of radio operator and dog handler, Ross Harvey and meteorological observer Kev Miller and myself. We departed on 25 August 1962 from Mawson, but after eight days of setbacks and bad weather, returned to Mawson, having covered only twenty miles of our journey.
After a period of re-organisation and repairs and recovery from frostbite, we set out again on 9 September 1962. This time the journey was completed in twenty-two days. An astrofix was obtained at each of the required points and Church Mountain was scaled, but not to the peak.
This was the first visit to this area and geological samples and specimens of lichens were collected. It was not possible to climb onto Mount Rivett because of lack of food and time.
Our campsite at Mount Rivett was, by necessity, about two miles from the mountain and a connection was made by short base triangulation.
Barometric heighting was recorded along the route taken.
Amery Ice Shelf Traverse
This traverse was the major field work of the year from the Station. Much work and planning were carried out during the year. A depot laying journey for 140 miles along the route was executed by a party led by Mike Lucas, the OIC in the Autumn.
Due to illness of the OIC later in the year, I was appointed Leader of the Summer Expedition.
We departed on 20 October 1962 and arrived back at Mawson on 13 January 1963.
The results of this journey, mapping-wise are enumerated below :
- The route was charted and marked on the ground, this being the first journey through the region, designed to discover a practical route to the Amery Ice Shelf.
- Barometric heighting by modified leap frog method was extended from Mawson outward to the Amery Ice Shelf and was repeated on the return journey.
- Mapping of the edge if the continent along the west side of the Amery Ice Shelf was carried out; and ground control was established by astrofix at 69°46′S, 69°03′E (this was on the one and only rock feature discovered on this journey, now named Trost Rocks).
- Another astrofix was done at the Depot on the Ice Shelf, from which location our work on the Ice Shelf was carried out (Glaciology, Meteorology, Survey and Traverses). This Depot was at 69°09′S, 70°14′E and a repetition of this fix will give a measure of the movement of the ice shelf over time. A marker beacon, four fuel drums high, welded together and held in place by wire cables, was erected to mark the location.
Anniversary Nunatak Journey
As it was not possible to obtain an astrofix on the Nunataks to the south of the Masson Range on the return journey from the Amery Ice Shelf, and the fix was most desirable for current compilation work in Melbourne, it was decided to make a special journey to these Nunataks at 68°01′S, 63°03′E (this had been requested from Melbourne as the Tractor Train was passing nearby on route back to Mawson).
Subsequently, three of us set out from Mawson on 24 January 1963, and returned on 28 January, having obtained the astrofix on Australia Day. The total journey, using the single Snow Trac available, was just over 100 miles. Personnel were Carstens, Surveyor, and two volunteers, Rex Filson (collecting lichens) and John (Snow) Williams (mechanic).
It is notable that with the impending arrival of the Nella Dan, for return to Australia, there was some reluctance for some to volunteer for this trip - plus the need to wrap up the year’s work on the Station. Throughout the year, assistance for the Surveyor was always willingly and enthusiastically provided. The ship arrived on 2 February, and departed Mawson on 12 February 1963.
Details of this project are available via the following link.
Return to Australia
The relief expedition led by Dr Phillip Law arrived at Mawson on 2 February 1963, on the Nella Dan under Captain Berthleson.
Because of earlier delays in the ship’s itinerary, the time at Mawson was limited.
Because of bad weather and the amount of other work during the changeover, no soundings were taken north of Mawson as detailed in the Instructions. An attempt to obtain some soundings, as the ship departed from Mawson, was also thwarted by the roughness of the sea.
The ship departed for Davis with the 1962 Party aboard, on 12 February 1963.
We kept close to the coast on this voyage and from Cape Darnley a Radar Plot of the coastline was kept until Bollinger Islands were reached. The most part of this plot was the edge of the Amery Ice Shelf. A landing was made on the Ice Shelf at 68°29′S, 73°19′E, and an astrofix was obtained. This gave effective control of the position of the edge of the Ice Shelf. This location checks with the location of a Russian astrofix done in 1957, but a forward movement of five Nautical Miles is indicated by comparison of the plots. This is consistent with the estimate possible forward movement of the ice shelf.
At Davis, unavailability of the ship’s boat and poor weather prevented all but a few soundings being obtained north of the charted section of the anchorage.
Using the Autoset Level a line of levels was run six miles inland to Deep Lake. These results verify the barometric heighting of this area.
The ship departed from Davis for Wilkes on 21 February 1963.
The charting of the ship’s track and echo sounding were carried out for the remainder of the voyage south of 60°S, this included a rendezvous with an American Icebreaker U.S. Glacier west of Wilkes, and several probes into the pack ice in an endeavour to reach Wilkes Station. Finally, the attempt to reach Wilkes was abandoned and the ship headed for Heard Island and then to Australia via Kerguelen Islands.
The ship arrived at Hobart on 24 March 1963. Here most of our Party, including myself, disembarked. We were returned to Melbourne by commercial aeroplane.
Compilation of Results
After reporting to the National Mapping Office on 26 March 1963, it was arranged that I take holidays from 29 March to 2 May 1963.
From May I worked in the office of Antarctic Mapping Branch until 27 August 1963, at which date I terminated my appointment with the Division of National Mapping.
Reports have been compiled covering the various aspects of the work as experienced by me and results of survey work are recorded in the recognised method in the Department files.
A daily diary was kept throughout the whole period and this was condensed to a brief form and lodged with National Mapping in Melbourne. Throughout the year at the Station monthly reports were signalled to Australia giving brief account of the activities of the previous month.
This report was written in Brisbane following my departure from National Mapping and taking up an appointment with Electricity Industry in Queensland.
DR Carstens, Licensed Surveyor.
Information appended at the end of Surveyor Report
Suggestions for the Use of Tellurometer Stations (Geodetic) for the Control of Ice Movement Measurements
To obtain an accurate controlled picture of the movement of plateau ice which is in view of the mountain ranges south of Mawson, an extension of the methods used by the Glaciologist, Ian Landon-Smith and myself in 1962, could be of advantage.
Using a traverse line, set out with bamboo stakes, control on various stakes along this line can be obtained by Tellurometer and angular measurement from fixed points on the (accessible) mountains. Sufficient fixed points would command ample visibility to the marked traverse.
The idea here is that measurements be repeated at appropriate intervals for several years, providing rates of flow at the marked locations.
[The full text of this suggestion is not reproduced here as the methodology outlined is basic and in practical terms is superseded by other technologies available in 2020. Note by D Carstens, June 2020.]
Additional material has been included below. The comments are in answer to clarifications sought and record the exchange of information for the record.
Firstly, I am not aware, and I am sure I was not aware at Mawson, of any island triangulation north of Mawson, by Bob Dovers.
My recollection, and having limited documentation available, is that the first triangulation done on the islands north of Mawson was by Armstrong in 1959.
Armstrong covered northwards to Azimuth and Canopus Islands. I extended this work northwards in 1962 to Williams Rocks and Nelson Rocks. This was an additional 5 miles to a total of 16 miles offshore.
Armstrong marked his stations with a yellow 44 gallon drum with dayglo paint markings on the rock. I have a list of PSM’s placed.
The two new beacons erected in 1962 consisted of four forty-four gallon drums, welded together and standing four drums high. Each beacon was held by steel wire guys anchored to pins solidly fixed into the rock.
In 1962 I installed brass PSMs at all of Armstrong’s stations as well as at new stations. This included the inland stations on the Tellurometer quadrilateral.
I agree that '55, '56, '57, (Fisher) '60, ‘61 had no triangulation recorded. Station Summary sheets, which I have, list Knuckey as responsible for NMA/S/1 to 5. There are connections to PRP's from astrofixes along the dog traverse. The next in my issued sheets are NMA/S/51 to 56, and these cover Armstrong's work in 1959 at Mawson.
In 1961 Tom Gale and I used Armstrong's drums as the beacons for the Hydrographic Survey during changeover. Hydrographic Chart, Aus300.
All my field books lodged at Natmap.