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Chubb Crater - Part 7 of 12
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- Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999 21:34:09 +0200
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The List was down again yesterday, so here's part 7 once more:
Magnetometer Probes in Vain
On the crater rim overlooking the lake, Long John Keefe and Len Cowan
pressed their magnetometer survey with the zeal of the perfectionists
they were. The search, however, was still no more productive than my
nightly radio calls. If a meteorite mass existed somewhere under the
crater lip, it, too, was giving no answer that could be detected by
On August 14 a Norseman plane dropped unheralded from the sky and
disrupted our routine. Aboard were Dr. Jacques Rousseau, director of
Montreal's Botanical Garden, and Dr. I.W. Jones, chief geologist of the
Department of Mines of Quebec, who had been doing field work in northern
Ungava, Malcolm Ritchie, Dr. Jones's assistant, Dr. Rousseau's son
François, René Richard, artist-prospector, and the plane's crew.
These unexpected visitors brought us news and a bundle of mail from
home. Their welcome could not have been warmer.
Tramping along the crater rim with Dr. Jones, I poured out the story of
the expedition's work to date. 1 told him of our disappointment over the
failure to find evidence of a buried meteorite, how my search for
meteoritic particles likewise had been fruitless, and how I regretted
that only small portions of the vast plain could be covered in this
Throughout our survey tour Dr. Jones made his geological observations,
which led him to favor a meteoritic origin as the explanation for the
crater. His opinion gave me a lift, for I hold his scientific ability in
In the course of our talks the subject of radio cropped up. Dr. Jones
said the Fort McKenzie station, 350 miles to the southeast, had called
us nightly and listened for our signals. I took this as confirming my
suspicions that something was wrong with the set, not with Meen, perhaps
because of some unnoticed damage to it in transit.
We bid our guests Godspeed the next day, and that night came the miracle
which made their visit an omen of good luck in my mind.
I was at the radio and heard Fort McKenzie trying in vain to raise
another station. I gave the operator plenty of time, then on some
strange impulse tried to butt in.
Your stunned expedition leader almost fell from his chair when McKenzie
promptly answered, saying he could get my transmitter's carrier wave,
but no voice!
This temperamental transceiver - what was it doing? I was at a loss as
to what I should try next. For no reason at all I pressed switches
cutting in our two microphones at once and blurted out our call letters.
Radio Contact at Last
"You wouldn't be the crater, would you?" McKenzie's operator inquired.
Would I be the crater? Would I !
The shout of "Yes" I hurled back across the ether must have set the
other chap's ears ringing. I felt as if only 350 inches separated us
instead of 350 miles, and wanted to run right over and shake hands. I
still don't know why the set operated with two "mikes" cut in, but went
dumb when I used only one. However, it performed flawlessly for me
during our remaining week. We were in daily contact with the outside.
Our luck with the radio failed to bring any corresponding change in our
fortunes in the field. Days dwindled. Friday, August 17, arrived.
The camp awoke to foul weather, snow squalls, and rain. I had planned to
send someone up to the crater early to give the magnetometer team the
bad news: their futile search was to cease by noon the next day so that
they could return to base and pack up for our departure Monday. The
weather, however, made any trip to the rim foolhardy.
Conditions improved greatly by midday; so I had Stewart and Martin set
out on the errand. I insisted two go because the boulders still looked
slippery, and I wanted immediate help at hand in case one man got hurt.
Bad weather returned with a vengeance a short time after they left. As
the day dragged on, my anxiety mounted. Not until 7:30 did they make it
back to camp. Heavy snow squalls had forced them to seek shelter
repeatedly under large boulders.
But they brought great news. "The boys said to tell you they think they
are on the right trail at last," Dick reported.
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