Jun 23, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

In Snow and Ice—Researchers Reveal Century Old Journal in Antarctica

Oct 27, 2014 01:16 AM EDT

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The Antarctic ice is host to very little life, yet often researchers find that beneath the frozen surface we find remnants and a record of our past. Core ice samples not only reveal atmospheric concentrations of particular molecules in ancient skies, giving us a view of how the Earth's climate has changed over eons even before the arrival of man, but also sometimes reveals a view of our own history on the icy sheet. This week, after more than a century since it was written and lost in a tragic expedition, the preserved journal of explorer George Murray Levick was found by researchers who recovered the photographic treasure from a casing made entirely of ice.

Part of the famous Terra Nova Expedition, led by British explorer Robert Scott in 1910-1913 which ended in the tragic death of the six party members, Levick was a zoologist, surgeon and photographer who documented the trip. Part of the northern expedition that travelled along the coast of Antarctica tasked with conducting scientific observational studies, Levick and his group famously survived the harsh winter after stranded in icy waters by taking shelter in an ice cave on Inexpressible Island. However, the diary recovered at the remnants of the buried Terra Nova base camp at Cape Evans documents the earlier days of their tale.

The works of a true photographer and biologist, the diary is documented meticulously, including photographs and entries that explain not only what the researchers saw, but even details their difficult battles with the harsh Antarctica. While the main stories taken from the Terra Nova Expedition focus highly on the tragic ending of their mission, researchers hope that this early work will help shed light on the important discoveries made and the quantity of work that was done in their short summer at the South Pole.

"It's an exciting find! The notebook is a missing part of the official expedition record" Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT) Executive Director, Nigel Watson says. "After spending seven years conserving Scott's last expedition, building and collecting [works from the mission], we are delighted to still be finding new artifacts [to add to the collection]."

The notebook, which was found by the AHT during this past summer's melt, sustained minimal damage considering the harsh terrain it was trapped in for over a century, however, ice and water damage did dissolve the bindings of the journal which was barely held together by ice when it was discovered. Prior to repairing and resewing the binding to its original state, the pages were separated and digitized, and are being digitally repaired by archivists. The resewn journal will make its way back home to Cape Evans, where the AHT displays over 11,000 artifacts from Scott's earlier missions.

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