Mt. Erebus Always Shakes Ross Island


Mr. Hess,

I am Ashley Durrwachter and I am doing a class project on Antarctica, and I was wondering if you might be able to answer a few questions for me?

  1. Can you describe walking on a glacier?
  2. Do you recall how you made an igloo?
  3. What is a "herbie?"
  4. Can you remember when the earthquake was and what was it like?
  5. Please describe the first sunset and when was it?

Please get back to me as soon as possible. Bye!

Hi Ashley,

From your email address, it sounds like you are in Florida, so you may have never walked on snow. A glacier is like a big snow river that flows to the sea. The snow has packed down, and has the consistency of stuck together snow cone ice. As it moves, it can open up crevasses, that can be very dangerous. When walking in dangerous areas, people tie themselves together. This way if one person falls, the others can hopefully keep that person safe.

The igloo we made in snow craft school was not made with blocks like most people think. We piled up all our bags, put a tarp over them, and piled snow on top. We then dug the bags out of the pile of snow.

A Herbie is a bad storm that comes out of the southeast. I do not know why they call them Herbies, and I have asked lots of people. The wind in a Herbie can reach hurricane strength. Just a few days ago the wind at Black Island, about 22 miles from here, was peaking over 100 mph.

There are earthquakes just about every day. The Mount Erebus volcano is always shaking Ross Island. The scientists here have placed sensors around the island to monitor the volcano. In one year of study, the scientists found the average was seven quakes per day. I have only seen one big quake on the seismic charts, but it was still mild enough that I did not feel the quake.

I think the first sunset was in February, but I slept through it. Oh well, I did not see the first sunrise in August either. Soon we will once again have 24 hours of sunlight. Even though the sun is going down, it is no longer getting completely dark.

Take care,
David Hess NK3T
Presently living in beautiful downtown McMurdo, Antarctica.

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