In preparation for the upcoming expedition to Nepal we did some last minute testing of the equipment in Adventdalen. Autumn is a beautiful time of year in Svalbard, for a short period of time we have day and night, which also means amazing sunrise and sunsets. We got an early start to make the most of the day and weren’t disappointed.
The main aim of the day was to test the electrical resistivity equipment. It is much easier to set up the survey here in Svalbard as we are at sea level, can drive out into the valley and the terrain is flat. This means we can spend much more of the time testing all of the setting and making sure all of the cable connections are working correctly. Once everything is set up we have to wait for the survey to be collected…..
As you can probably tell from the photographs this site in Adventdalen isn’t a glacier but it does have many of the characterises that we will come across on the glacier in Nepal. On a debris-covered glacier we expect to find ice, frozen ground, water saturated ground and relatively dry ground. The area in Adventdalen is classified as permafrost, the ground beneath the surface remains below 0° C all year and is permanently frozen. The surface layer melts and freezes with warmer and colder air temperature but only to a depth of around 1 m. The site that we chose also contains what is know as an ice wedge, these features form in permafrost and are common in this valley. When the ground freezes in winter it contracts and cracks, as the ground starts to thaw in the spring the meltwater flows into the crack and then freezes. When the water freezes it expands and widens the crack. Over many cycles of freezing and thawing the wedge of ice grows in size. In autumn, we can therefore expect that the area we survey includes all of the characteristics that we will find in Nepal.