My glaciology works continue during summer campaigns in the coastal area of Adelie Land, near Dumont d'Urville station. I lead the 15th French winterover in Adelie Land, not always an easy task but enriching my polar experience. Adelie and Emperor penguins are the friendly neighbours of a community isolated for almost a year to take care of an observatory operation in Antarctica.
Americans, Russians, Danes.. by then equiped themselves with drilling gear, a rapidly developing technical field. On our side we developed an equipment by carrying out core drillings in the coastal ice of Adelie Land where I wintered over as " district leader " in 1965.
Tests down to 200 m enabled us to retrieve old ice coming from the inner inlandsis, dating from the last ice age 20,000 years ago. Isotopes analysis will be difficult to interpret in terms of climate : the temperature variations observed would add those of the cimate to those related to the altitude of the site from which the ice originated.
Our team of glaciologists came in the field to look for such a site during the 1961-62 and 1963-64 summer campaigns. Equiped with ice axes and studs we drove landmarks to measure shifts, we drilled multiple holes to retrieve samples analysed afterwards in mainland France.
Results are clear : this ice does not move much (a few meters per year), it comes from far (having traveled 600 to 800 kilometers) and is possibly 20,000 years old in the vicinity of the moraine made of dust and rocks tore from the bedrock by the glacier moving back up. It is on these results that I presented my thesis.
As always, the researcher wants to know more of it ; and for that we had to core drill this ice from surface to bottom. We will make a few attempts in the Alps glaciers and, after some modifications, the drilling machine normally used in the ground seems able to provide cores over around a hundred meters deep in the ice. In this area close to the coast, it is about the thickness given by the gravimetric measurements performed from the surface.
Our project accepted and financed we will perform there two drilling campaigns during the summers flanking 1965. They gave good results... But researchers, like human beings, always want more of it. And what we wanted was a deep drilling inside the continent on a site where the ice is thick and does not move much.