One of the dangers associated with walking on ice is that we could fall into a crevasse. Crevasses are cracks that form in large chunks of ice (like glaciers and ice sheets). They can be narrow or wide. Sometimes you can hop across it, but sometimes they can be too wide to get across. They can be shallow (ankle or knee depth) or very deep (100 feet deep or more).
Crevasses aren’t always visible from the surface, because they can be covered with a thin ceiling of ice and snow on top, making it difficult to spot. However, that “ice bridge” covering the ceiling of a crevasse may not be strong enough to hold the weight of a human, particularly one wearing heavy clothing and a backpack full of gear and samples!
People have died from falling into deep crevasses. Typically, we try our absolute best to avoid going into them! However, they have secured one crevasse and we are allowed to visit it. We use a lot of safety gear to make sure we don’t fall further into the crevasse, should it become unstable. It’s absolutely amazing inside!
The picture below shows the tiny hole we had to squeeze through in order to get access to the expansive cave. You can see how easy it might be to not realize that a vast, deep cave is down there. You could easily step on it and fall into it! It was fun going into a crevasse under my own control with the necessary safety gear, but we certainly don’t want to surprise ourselves by falling into one while we’re out sampling.
We are still waiting for the sea ice to blow out so that we can start sampling. Bad weather is predicted to roll in, so it might be next week before we can go.