CECs, Centro de Estudios Científicos (Center for Scientific Studies) is a private, non-profit corporation, devoted to the development, promotion and diffusion of scientific research. CECs was founded in 1984 as the Center for Scientific Studies of Santiago and has since been directed by physicist Claudio Bunster.

“If you plan to make a voyage of discovery, choose a ship of small draught”
Captain James Cook rejecting the large ships offered by the Admiralty for the search of a new continent.
Southern Ice Field Expedition 2018 PDF Print E-mail

November 27, 2018 


The day began at 6 a.m. JO went looking for samples of possible traces of didymo for phytosanitary controls. At the same time, AR, AS and JG went to the island to change batteries and the station panel. The idea was to take seismic pulse measurements when we got back, but before 9 a.m. we got a call from Valdivia informing us that the operation would be moved up schedule, so it began a race to disassemble the entire camp: individual tents (x6), kitchen tent and then disassemble the Zodiac and dismantling the engine 40 hp when we returned from the island. Finally, at 10 a.m. the whole camp was properly packed and we were ready for transport.



Return flight to Torres del Paine Administration



Team preparing for helicopter departure



Good wind conditions for sailing in the morning


The helo arrives at 10:30 am. First flight lasts 30 min to "Tyndall", taking JH, JO and AS. On the second flight are AR, CF and JG. We leave in two vans to Punta Arenas, where we can take a shower and enjoy the benefits of civilization. For dinner we will have Patagonian lamb in a typical local place. We celebrate. We were able to do our work despite the wind and tomorrow afternoon we will be back in Valdivia with our families.






November 26, 2018  


Strong winds remain. From Valdivia we are warned that the Helicopters will be able to transport us in two flights tomorrow at noon, but they will confirm flight time at 10 a.m. Due to the limited time left, a last visit to the Dickson Lakes island is planned, so that AS can change a battery and panel in the station. During the afternoon we disassembled the small Zodiac, the storage tent and toilet. With the camp’s dismantling, we have already began our return.



November 25, 2018


Today again the sunrise welcomed us with much wind, but no precipitations. 11 a.m. JO, JG, AS and CF, leave to explore a route to get to the automatic camera set to capture the front. We climbed up a small mountainous ridge until we found the dense forest. We climbed up to 1,000 meters (the camera is at 900 meters). CF and AS tried to move towards the camera but the wind and terrain prevented it. We headed towards the Dickson shelter, for which we had to cross the forest again. We finally returned to camp at 6:30 p.m.



Searching for a safe route to the automatic camera



November 24, 2018


We had wind and rain at dawn, adverse conditions remain throughout the day. We have to wait and rest.



November 23, 2018


Wind again, there will be no respite today either. JO and JG organize the water samples, the rest of us consolidate and review the data, backups and other sensitive measuring systems. At this point in the expedition, we can’t afford to have good weather only to deal with equipment failure.



Water samples preparation and labelling



November 22, 2018


8 a.m. During breakfast the wind rose in the Dickson lake, announcing that it would not be a day for measurements. We made maintenance work on the equipment and camp.



November 21, 2018

It’s 7 a.m. at breakfast. It seems to be one of the best days for measurements. Wind conditions are less than 20 km/hrs. and cloudy, but with a stable forecast.


8 a.m. In the large Zodiac AR, CF, AS and JH, go towards the island to leave AS and JH to take measurements of LIDAR. After they leave them, they take bathymetry lines. In the second Zodiac JO and JG take temperature measurements and water samples. AR, CF, AS and JH return to the camp at 1 p.m., while JO and JG continue with lake temperature readings, on their return with tail wind, they face tall waves, but not enough to put the the mission in danger.


After lunch, AR, JG and AS go to the island in the first Zodiac. AS will check battery for any technical problems. Upon their return, JO and JG set sail to develop seismic pulse measurements. A longitudinal measurement is made towards the south and then a transversal one. Heavy rain starts. We make one additional diagonal and return to the camp. It has been a long day but a generous one measurement-wise. We are exhausted, but very happy with the work we accomplished.



November 20, 2018


At 7:30, breakfast like every day. At dawn we often have precipitation of rain and at times sleet, but no wind in the camp! We get ready to go out sailing and measuring. AR and AS take care of the bathymetry. They leave the bay and announce that there is swelling but little wind. We decided to continue, we must accept that in this period we will probably not find an optimal and pristine window of opportunity to work in.


Then we went out for temperature measurements. We didn't make it to the island, AR warned us that conditions were poor, so we turned around. AR and AS are still doing bathymetry. During the afternoon we try bathymetry again JO, JG and AS. We do some longitudinal bathymetry in the south and north zone of the camp. We advance little by little, patiently and cleverly taking data from the lake every chance we get, there is no other way for the time being.


November 17, 2018


Weather conditions are finally improving. At dawn the weak wind over the lake is hardly noticeable, we have excellent visibility and are eager for our payback. There is no time to lose and all maneuvers must be carried out with precision. Andrés R., Jorge H. and Alejandro S. are going to carry out terrestrial LIDAR in front of the glacier. At the same time, Jonathan Oberreuter and Jonathan Garcés do a profile of the water column using the Conductivity and Temperature in Depth (CTD) and turbidity sensor. At the same time bathymetric measurements are taken at the. There are plenty of icebergs in our bay, which makes operations a little difficult, but the wind speed reaches no more than 10 km/hrs., a real respite in these regions.


We carry out both tasks. AR and CF measure the northern part of the lake. JO and JG measure 6 points with Conductivity and Temperature in Depth (CTD) sensors. The wind begins to increase at noon. We pick up the boys at the island. JO and JG take JH, while AR and CF take AS. They carry out a part of the LIDAR, they leave the equipment protected on the island.


During the afternoon most people rest. AR eyes were sore. AR and JO review data from seismic pulse measurements, Echosounder and Conductivity and Temperature at Depth (CTD) sensors to plan new points and measurement tracks. AR and CF take rock samples in the northern part of the lake (with non-formal methodology). At noon or about 1 p.m. the wind begins to pick up and in the afternoon it again exceeds 100 km/hrs. We finish for the day, happy to have fulfilled our mission objectives. It has been a good day.



Jonathan G and Jonathan O leaving the camp with plenty of icebergs.



Andres heading to the island with Jorge and Carlos to take LIDAR measurement



LIDAR measurement of the glacial front



Temperature profile measurements at Dickson Lake



Rock sampling


November 16, 2018


For the past four days, the weather has been unrelenting. The wind gusts sometimes exceed 100 km/h., so we have to be constantly attentive to our camp to avoid a tent coming loose or damage to our equipment.


Finally, the wind gave way at mid-morning on Friday. It allowed us to install the water pressure sensor and develop some bathymetric measurements, both in the center of the lake and in front of Dickson glacier, using our two boats simultaneously. The operation was quick and complex, but given the meteorological instabilities, we knew how to make the most of this brief window of acceptable conditions.





Water pressure sensor installation


Today we briefly celebrate in our camp’s safety.


November 15, 2018


A mildly strong wind began to rise from the Dickson glacier since very early in the morning, by mid-morning it could be considered a "hurricane" type wind, we could observe how thunderstorms (wind eddies similar to tornadoes) form in the lake about 100 m from our campsite. The weather station installed on the island recorded winds of over 100 km/h on that day. All the scientific data of this event was sent directly to Valdivia, whom are receiving the data signal from the weather station via satellite. During the afternoon, regrettably, conditions worsened.



Windy and rainy day at the camp



November 14, 2018


In the last two days the weather conditions have not been safe for bathymetric measurements in the lake, so adjustments and minor improvements have been made to the equipment. Today was no exception, the wind intensified and in the afternoon it snowed; we will have temperatures below zero throughout today and tomorrow.


The camp and all of us are in good condition and with high spirits, as we have assumed that we will have to arm ourselves with patience. Sooner or later our "window of good weather" will arrive, and when that time comes we will have to work tirelessly to make all the measurements we set out to do.



Bathymetric measurement


November 13, 2018


We woke up very early in the morning with a moderate wind, then strong gusts and snow in the afternoon forced us to suspend the bathymetric measurements in the lake since the wind became stronger as the hours passed.


We decided to grieve with a rich Magellanic lamb and a double garnish of pasta. If there is good weather tomorrow, we will welcome it with all the energy in the world.



November 12, 2018


In the morning there were already signs that the day would not be an easy one. A moderate wind rose along with the sunrise and lasted all day. Although the weather conditions were not ideal for sailing, by maximizing precautions we managed to test the bathymetry equipment, which worked optimally.


Some of the instruments small calibration problems were solved during the day without major inconveniences. We hope that tomorrow we can start probing with greater intensity.



Carlos F. and Alejandro S. making GPS measurements with lots of wind



November 11, 2018


Today was cloudy but without wind. We prepared the equipment and boats in order to attempt to make bathymetric measurements at Dickson Lake. These measurements are, in logistical terms, very sensitive to wind speed. In this landscape a calm lake without wind can change in a matter of minutes into a dangerous swarm of high frequency waves that make it practically impossible to take measurements, and also constitute a threat to the expeditioners’ safety. We are waiting for the right conditions to take measurements.



Carlos and Jorge worked on the preparation and configuration of one of the camera stations while Alejandro and Jonathan G. installed the weather station (AWS). At the same time, Andres and Jonathan O. installed, configured and tested the bathymetry equipment in the two zodiacs.


During the night the wind rose and hit the lake with strong gusts, but the base camp was installed in a wind sheltered area. So far, the weather conditions have allowed us to operate as planned. We hope they stay that way..



 Zodiacs’ assembly for navigation on Dickson Lake



Transfers by sea to the island where AWS would be installed



Weather station installation in front of Dickson glacier



November 10, 2018


We were lucky to have an ideal day for the airborne operation, with excellent visibility and weak winds. We were able to start the activities at five o'clock in the morning and work uninterruptedly for almost 16 hours, thanks to the extended daylight in this extreme south latitude in which we are.



Helicopter cargo transfer from Laguna Azul



Approaching Dickson Lake by helicopter


After multiple helicopter flights we were able to establish our base camp ahead of schedule. The time gained allowed Alejandro Silva and Jonathan Garcés to install one of our automatic cameras pointing towards the upper part of Dickson glacier. The thermal sensation remained very pleasant during the day (considering our environment), and now being 9 p.m. we are getting ready to have dinner; a hefty goulash prepared by Carlos.


fig Dickson

Base camp location on the shores of Dickson Lake



Automatic camera installation



Camp on the shores of Lake Dickson



November 9, 2018


Today the expeditioners’ main group stayed at Laguna Azul in Torres del Paine National Park, distributing the cargo and preparing the scientific equipment to be transported by helicopter in successive trips to Dickson Lake, where our base camp will be established.


laguna azul


Andrés and Carlos went to "pueblito Serrano" where our helicopter base is located, to fine-tune the last details of the flight plan and cargo with the pilots, for tomorrow's movements. They arrived safely our logistic base at Laguna Azul.



November 7, 2018


During the morning, the group divides to carry out different tasks in Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine National Park. The first group supplies fresh food, while the second group makes contact with CONAF administration in Serrano St. to review all the necessary permits.


In the afternoon, the whole team and Zodiac boats must be checked by SERNAPESCA for Didymus certification and prevention (an invasive microalgae that severely damages fluvial ecosystems).




At the end of the day the cargo is consolidated and distributed on the truck that will take all the equipment to Laguna Azul, the site of the first camp.



November 6, 2018


At 6 a.m. we officially began our expedition to the Southern Ice field 2018. Our expert field team composed by Jorge Hernández, Jonathan Oberreuter, Jonathan Garcés, Alejandro Silva and Carlos Fouilloux, departed from the CECs in Valdivia towards Puerto Montt to catch a flight to Punta Arenas.




They arrived safely and took a transport to Puerto Natales via the Punta Arenas airfield, arriving around 6 p.m.