One – nil!
This is the result of the match currently being played between researchers and nature on the “pitch” located on the Ortler glacier, at 3,850 metres.Yesterday the perforation system reached 74 metres depth and extracted an ice core from the glacial soil, the part that lies directly on the rock. This can clearly be proven by the fact that the lower glacier layer contains rock fragments.
But it has not been easy.
During the perforation, some material from the upper layers, consisting of firn (compacted snow, which will become ice) and water that melted in the summer ran along the bore hole and froze further down. This created a cap, which blocked the hole. The perforation system therefore had to free up the hole every single time, while extracting the ice cores from the bottom to the surface. Pictures with details of the operation system are available here: picture gallery of 22 September.
While being a technically relevant obstacle, as can easily be understood, this is also excellent news. It means that the lower part of the glacier is very cold, which again brings hope that the climatic archive could still be undamaged.
The ice core extraction was interrupted for half a day in order to move the perforation system a few metres horizontally. There, a second point is currently being perforated, with the hope of extracting a second ice core.
The visit of the two high school students, Giulia and Philip, which is part of the education programme (“Researching at the Ortler summit”), will take place on Monday, 3 October 2011. From Saturday onwards, our editorial staff will be on the glacier as well, in order to observe the operations and to collect material and testimonies which will be published on this homepage in the coming weeks.