IGY Relics


Doug Finlayson, geophysicist; 1962-1963

There are not many IGY relics still around. Some people may put me and other survivers of that era into that catagory, however non-human relics are few and far between, especially those still at Halley Base.

One image from Miriam's 2004 photo portfolio referred to in Newsletter No.3 showed Simon sitting next to the memorial to those who have died in service at Halley Base (photo below). It may be of interest to some to know that the memorial was built from relics of the IGY expedition to Halley Bay.

Neville Mann died during August 1963 on the sea ice after being swept offshore during a sudden storm while training his dog team. I was the geophysicist on the base at the time and had sea current sensors connected by phone lines deployed out on the sea ice and thus we knew almost to the minute when the sea ice broke from the Brunt Ice Shelf. Following his death a memorial was constructed on the ice cliff overlooking the bay (photo below).

Memorial in 1963
Photo by Doug Finlayson
The memorial in 1963

The materials for the memorial were salvaged from the the old buried IGY magnetic observatory that I had just replaced with new magnetic observatory buildings on the surface. The floor of the IGY building was being crushed under ice pressure about 10 metres under the surface. In the 1950s - 1960s the piers for delicate and sensitive magnetic instruments were normally built unconnected to the building through holes in the floor to reduce wind noise and people vibration. Thus on an ice shelf they were built of telegraph poles buried deep into the ice with non- magnetic brickwork piers constructed on top to eye level. The memorial is constructed from one of the old IGY brick piers and a surplus telegraph pole.

As far as I know the memorial now contains the only IGY relics now at the base. With some help, I dragged the pier to the surface from the buried observatory building and built the memorial. I suspect that the steel sledge on which it now rests is also an IGY relic (if its the one my memory thinks it is). Sadly, other names were added to the memorial later.

Memorial in 2005
Photo by Miriam Iorwerth
The memorial in 2005

4 June 2014

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