Wright's team, along with a bulldozer and a tracking vehicle, crossed the shear zone, a deceptively flat plain of snow where the McMurdo and the Ross Ice Shelf meet. Antarctica's ice sheets are constantly moving, but here the Ross Ice Shelf is moving slightly faster than the McMurdo Ice Shelf. This discrepancy causes crevasses to form. According to the Antarctic Sun, Wright's team spent two months crossing the 3.1 miles of the shear zone. During this time, they found and filled 32 crevasses with snow.
Next year, Wright's team will head for the Leverett Glacier, climbing an elevation of approximately 3,000 feet. If things go well, the NSF will conduct an environmental impact survey before using the route regularly.
Currently, supplies are flown in on ski-equipped C130 cargo planes; 26,000 pounds can be taken per flight and approximately 250 flights are flown every season. According to the Antarctic Sun, the new route could in six round-trips deliver 243,500 pounds of fuel, lowering the cost from $13 per gallon to $.63-$.84 per gallon.
Here Wright's team fills a crevasse with snow taking
a 83,000 pound bulldozer to the edge of the crevasse.
Photo from the Antarctic Sun