Report on Hero's First Antarctic Cruise

The Palmer Station-R/V Hero operational concept was tested for the first time this year, with apparent success. The ease with which the small research vessel can support studies in narrow waters and move field parties about in the archipelago contributed significantly to the mobility of the nearly one dozen groups working ashore and afloat in the Antarctic Peninsula area. In addition, it enabled the scientists to visit a number of stations in the area, including the Argentine Almirante Brown, Decepción, and Melchior; the British Argentine Islands and Deception Island; the Chilean Arturo Prat, Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, and the Antarctic Meteorological Center on King George Island; and the Soviet Bellingauzen. Visits were also paid to the British ships RRS John Biscoe and Shackleton, the Soviet Professor Zubov, the Chilean Yelcho, and the Chilean Navy's Aquiles, under charter to Lindblad Travel, Inc.

During the first two weeks of January, Dr. Edvard A. Hemmingsen, University of California (San Diego), and his associate, Dr. E. L. Douglas, studying the physiology of the Chaenichthyidae, obtained 40 specimens of C. aceratus in the vicinity of Arthur Harbor; most were caught on lines set at 20-100 fathoms. Respiratory measurements on the ice fish were completed successfully in the Palmer biological laboratory. A total of 23 C. aceratus were used to determine oxygen consumption, oxygen tension, blood volume, and arterial and venous oxygen content. Aquaria in the shore laboratory were used extensively.

In the same period, Dr. Jesse C. Thompson of Queens College, Charlotte, North Carolina, and an assistant made some 400 ciliated-protozoan cultures and more than 350 silver-slide preparations. Their field work was completed by the first week of February, much of the collecting having been done with the aid of Edisto's helicopters and Hero.

Dr. Rudolph M. Schuster, University of Massachusetts, collected Hepaticae throughout the South Shetland Islands and at various sites on Anvers and Argentine Islands and in the Gerlache Strait. Approximately 150 samples, including two genera new to Antarctica, were collected during an overnight stay at Devils Point, Livingston Island. Of special interest was the collection, early in February, of nine specimens of Belgica antarctica on Hook Island, and of Basidioinycetes, genus Gaberina, at Norsel Point. Edisto's helicopters and Hero's workboat placed Dr. Schuster at the collecting sites.

Dr. Jean-Roland Klay and Mr. Olav Orheim, glaciologists from Ohio State University, plus a field assistant, established camp on Deception Island on January 10. They collected moraine and ash samples from many localities including glaciers. Glacier mass-balance and deformation studies were carried out, and 39 stakes were established for future movement studies. Their work was completed on February 7, when they were picked up by Edisto's helicopters, only two weeks prior to renewed volcanic activity on the island (see insert). Hero assisted in the resupply of this group.

Dr. Ian W. D. Dalziel, Columbia University, and Dr. Kaye R. Everett, Ohio State University, and their field assistants established a joint camp on Livingston Island on January 11. They mapped and studied in detail the geology of False Bay and made collections of rocks, soils, and plants. They broke camp on January 26 and departed on Hero for additional geological studies at Greenwich and King George Islands. Both parties then returned to Livingston Island for studies at Miers Bluff. Among the notable results of this field work was the discovery of a nappe (a faulted, overturned fold), thrust across southern Livingston Island from the northwest to the southeast. The parties were relocated on Livingston Island by Edisto helicopter in mid-February. In late February, Dr. Daiziel's party was picked up by helicopter and returned to Chile aboard Edisto, while Dr. Everett was placed on Deception Island by Hero for a few days of study following the eruption on February 21 (see insert). Throughout the remainder of the summer, Dr. Everett's party was transported by Hero to collecting sites in the archipelago.

Dr. Joel Hedgpeth, Oregon State University, and his companions made preliminary scuba surveys in the vicinity of Palmer Station during the week of January 12-18. Observation stations were established for quantitative studies of Pycnogonida, and the intertidal zone was examined in the immediate vicinity of the station for data on the distribution of Notigera polaris. Diving operations continued throughout January and pycnogonids were filmed for motion studies. In February, additional diving and trawling were carried out from Hero at Port Lockroy and Melchior Island. When Dr. Hedgpeth and one assistant departed for Punta Arenas on February 6, the work was continued by Dr. John McCain, the third member of the party.

Throughout 2-1/2 months of the summer, Dr. James R. Rastorfer, Ohio State University, and an assistant made helicopter flights and trips by boat to local study areas. Moss collections for physiological studies were made from Hero in Gerlache Strait and from Edisto at Argentine and Adelaide Islands. Much of their work took place in the Palmer Station laboratory.

Dr. Arthur DeVries, University of California (Davis), senior scientist on Hero, trawled off the west coast of Deception and Hoseason Islands in January and then worked at the Palmer Station biological laboratory determining the blood-serum freezing point for two Notothenia species. Serum chloride levels were also measured. From February 1 through most of March, Dr. 1)eVries did much trawling and setting of traps from Hero in the waters surrounding Brabant, Anvers, and the South Shetland Islands.

During January, Dr. Roy E. Cameron, California Institute of Technology, and Dr. Robert Benoit, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, collected soil organisms at Port Foster, Deception Island. In the effort, they were supported by Hero. For several days they camped ashore and examined the cinder cones thrown up in the caldera in December 1967. They found the craters and surrounding terrain essentially barren except where the tide seeps in. Marine algae were found in crater pools, but there was no growth around fumaroles. Areas which escaped destruction in the 1967 volcanic eruption had patches of mosses and lichens, however. The cinder island was revisited briefly by helicopter in early February.

Professor Jorge Castillo, a Chilean guest scientist from the University of Concepción, worked the entire summer from Hero, taking grab, dredge, and bathythermograph stations both inside and outside the caldera of Deception Island and in English Strait between Robert and Greenwich Islands. He was able to resample the bottom of Port Foster within days of the eruption on February 21. Three Argentine guest scientists from Almirante Brown Station at Paradise Harbor also cruised on Hero for a few weeks of marine studies.

The photogeodesy group installed camera equipment for winter operation (darkness is required) and, in late January, also began a geodetic survey of the environs of Palmer Station. The PAGEOS equipment became operational on February 27. The four-man wintering team from the U.S. Army Topographic Command is headed by Mr. John Page, who is also this year's station scientific leader.

New Mexico State University's geodetic program, involving the recording of satellite-signal Doppler shifts, became operational in January and was completed by the first week in February. Three individuals participated.

On February 7, less than 6 months after crossing the Arctic Circle on her shakedown cruise in Baffin Bay, Hero crossed the Antarctic Circle. She departed Arthur Harbor for Punta Arenas on March 21. While trawling in the Drake Passage and Bransfield Strait for the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, she is expected to call once more at Palmer Station before winter sets in.

[From the Antarctic Journal, May-June 1969]