Daniel Uhlmann

Photographer
 
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Location: Chamonix, France
Nationality: American
Biography:     American-born and residing permanently in France, Danny Uhlmann specializes in the mountain environments world-wide, He has documented cutting edge science in Antarctica, the legacy of dairy farms in the French Alps, and hard-core... read on
Public Story
Erebus
Credits: daniel uhlmann
Date of Work: 10/15/15 - Ongoing
Updated: 09/21/17
Antarctica's Mt. Erebus is the southernmost active volcano on Earth. It continually spews molten lava from its crater into the frigid atmosphere. Two geophysicists, Graham Hill and Phil Wannamaker, assembled a team of scientists whose goal is to map the plumbing of the volcano down fifty kilometers into the earth . To do so they installed magnetotelluric sensors at 120 sites across Ross Island, the historic landmass of which Erebus is the highest point. 

Getting to Antarctica and finding a means to access the volcano is a complicated task. It requires gaining funding and permission from both the United States' National Science Foundation and Antarctica New Zealand to mount a multi-national science experiment. No survey of its kind has been attempted previously on an Antarctic volcano.

The pristine environment they fly up to every day serves as a stark contrast to the eccentric culture and industrial spaces of America's McMurdo Station and New Zealand's Scott Base. 

Being granted funds and permission to make a science experiment in Antarctica is the pinnacle of some people's careers. Only the very best in their fields are awarded funds, and competition is very difficult. The scientists have to prove the 'merit' of their work. This can mean a variety of things, and increasingly issues such as global warming take precedent. But hardcore geophysics such as this project have the ability to open up new understanding in the mechanics of the Earth's most basic processes.

Entwined within the complex and astounding logistical capabilities of both the US and New Zealand Antarctic programs, Wannamaker and Hill's team uses helicopters, snowmobiles, and snowcats to access sites on glaciated mountain tops, coastal ice cliffs, and next to the molten crater itself. They face the continuous dangers of hidden crevasses, quick-moving storms, and beaurocratic red-tape. Despite the challenges the singular beauty of Antarctica maintains its lure on team and provides a worthwhile backdrop for their project.

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