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“We Did Not Know Then What Surprises Awaited Us”

Many years ago, T.C. Poulter revealed some loud surprises from Antarctica, in the study “Arctic and Antarctic Acoustics,” T.C. Poulter, Stanford Research Institute Biological Sonar Lab, 1966. Poulter reports:

…first observed in the Antarctic in 1934 during the construction of a tunnel through the very porous, coarsely crystalline snow for communication during the winter night between the buildings in camp and the magnetic observatory. This 30-inch wide tunnel was constructed by cutting snow blocks from the solidified snow, leaving a trench about 30 inches wide and 4 feet deep. The blocks which were cut from this trench were laid up along the side of the trench to form the upper half of the walls of the tunnel, and large snow blocks were laid across the top. The tunnel, so constructed, rapidly drifted over and formed a very serviceable passageway.

With one man at each end of a 20-foot section of the completed tunnel, it was discovered that it was almost impossible for them to talk to each other. After experimenting for some time with the acoustical phenomena of this section of tunnel, they discovered that they could hear the sound of a working party using snow saws and digging in the hard snow with shovels, and also the noise of the snow crunching under their feet as they walked about. Upon investigating no one was even near, but upon stepping back into the tunnel, the sounds were unmistakable. A more careful inspection revealed that the noise was coming from a group of men who were digging in the snow to anchor a plane more than 200 yards away. This was very encouraging, for if the energy traveled that well through the snow, we should have no difficulty in getting some excellent seismic records. We did not know then what surprises awaited us when we tried our first seismic work.

BONUS: This info about Antarctic sound is not specific to, nor is is specifically (or perhaps even) from the Antarctic Sound.

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