The Use of Geographic Remote Sensing, Mapping and Aerial Photography to Aid in the Recovery of Blue Ice Surficial Meteorites in Antarctica

The Use of Geographic Remote Sensing, Mapping and Aerial Photography to Aid in the Recovery of Blue Ice Surficial Meteorites in Antarctica by Austin Mardon was a slight yet annoyingly unpaginated 68-page account of the author’s expedition to Antarctica to search for meteorites in 1986-87. He joined the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) team as a field member exploring the Lewis Cliff ice tongue. I am genuinely interested in this subject and was expecting exciting tales of adventure and discovery. Mardon did not write a captivating adventure story trekking for meteorites on the frozen continent–not that he had to, as this book soon appeared to be a dissertation–but it wasn’t an academic read either. Instead it was slopwork, and the worst presentation of a printed work I have ever encountered during a lifetime of reading. Hyperbole? How the hell did a work like this get published? That it was self-published shouldn’t matter; this work originally appeared in the Pacific Journal of Science and Technology in 2004, so someone must have looked it over. I doubt that the version printed in the journal was the same version that I read.   

If an author presents a work such as this, and has the nerve to charge $55 for it, I will not hesitate to pillory him for the harrowing reading experience. I am merciless in my assertion that Mardon cannot string a sentence together. After I looked for his academic credentials and biography on-line I make the albeit unqualified assessment that he is a genius but even idiots savants have their works pored over by peer review before they are published by science journals. Maintaining notes of the text was difficult since the book lacked pagination. What good was its table of contents without page numbers? In my note-taking I identified the pages by what side of the book they were on and by the first words on each page. Mardon belied his PhD credentials by committing errors a grade-school student of English as a second language would commit. He consistently used their for there. This error did not occur a couple times, but throughout the book. He also regularly confused then for than. He had the habit of repeating sentences and stretching formal names out, characteristic of elementary school con jobs of filling up the page to increase the word count. In one instance he repeated the sentence at the start of a new paragraph three times. It was uncalled for to continually refer to the US as “United States of America” and to ceaselessly add “in Antarctica” in case the reader’s attention span was shorter than that of a goldfish and needed to know where on Earth Mardon was hunting for those meteorites.

With the homophone error their/there (and the almost homophonic error between then and than) and the repetitious style of the text I wonder if this work was in fact a transcription from a lecture. Presenters often repeat sentences, with neither the speaker nor the audience even aware of hearing the same thing twice. But that doesn’t explain padding out US to “United States of America”.

The following are some of the most abysmal passages from the text. I refrain from inserting any [sic] notations; all quotes have been proofread multiple times to ensure that I copied them exactly as they appeared. 

“The snowmobile is also safer to be on a snowmobile then on ones feet on crevasse field because the pounds per square inch pressure is less per square inch for a snowmobile then the pounds per square inch pressure for someone that is standing on their feet.”

“Several days we worked around the clock to search the areas by snowmobile because when the wind was not blowing was a time when it was not as cold because the wind chill was not as bad as when we would get winds of up to 100 kilometers per hour.”

In a paragraph immediately under a bold heading entitled “Meteorites lack terrestrial contamination:”, Mardon contradicts himself within the first sentence:

“The volume of frozen generally uncontaminated by biological activity and only weathered by the ice and the cold means that samples recovered are some of the least uncontaminated samples that have been recovered.”

“This is the same commitment to detail where the Americans catalogue each sample even if they are similar to many previously samples recovered this commitment to detail has given us and understanding that would not necessarily be their if the Americans had followed the less detailed analysis of the Japanese Antarctic Meteorite Recovery Program.”

In a paragraph immediately under a heading entitled “Proposed French Antarctic Meteorite recovery program:”, Mardon manages to stretch out the heading to paragraph length:

“The author was the first to propose that the French Antarctic Program set up an Antarctic meteorite recovery program. (Mardon, 2003) What was proposed was that the French Antarctic program set up an Antarctic meteorite recovery program. Like the proposed Russian Antarctic meteorite recovery program that was proposed in 1992 by the author (Mardon, 1992a) the proposed French Antarctic meteorite recovery program would travel to potential blue ice meteorite placers by surface traverses.” 

A sample of the text can be found here where pagination has been added (albeit not in the table of contents). I can see from the author’s own website that this book is still in print with a new cover from 2014. Could this be an edited version? If the author sends me a copy of this edition I will read it and rewrite my review. I promise to purge all of my scathing one-star reviews from all fora in order to reflect the current state of the book.

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