High latitude AMGG teaching cruise

kasiasimonsteffen
By: Kasia Zamelczyk, Simon P. Jessen & Steffen Aa. Sørensen. 

In summer 2008 a group of PhD students in marine geology affiliated with SciencePub participated in a cruise training course under the AMGG umbrella (Artic Marine Geology and Geophysics, University of Tromsø). The course took place onboard the Tromsø based research vessel Jan Mayen and commenced on the 27 July (Tromsø) and lasted until the 8. August (Longyearbyen) and was lead by Dr. Katrine Husum, UiT.The teaching cruise contained a mixture of lectures, talks and practical disciplines. Lectures were given by teachers of the cruise and talks on contemporary scientific topics were given by the individual students. The practical part offered insights into the basics of conducting scientific coring at sea and contained various exercises, e.g. location of suitable coring sites evaluated on the basis of seismic measurements, preparation of coring equipment, sampling of cores, core description and magnetic susceptibility measurements in the wet laboratory when material had been successfully retrieved. The cruise coring positions were located in transects ranging from 77- 79 ºN and 1 ºW- 9 ºE in the Fram Strait between Svalbard and Greenland. The water depth of the coring cites ranged between 230 and 2900 meters.

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 A major problem was encountered during the cruise when the complete failure of a piston corer led to a so called ?banana? presumably cause by the slow drift of the vessel as the piston corer was locked in the sediment a good 1200 meters below the sea surface.

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Unpredictable failures like that are thankfully rare and several other core types were successfully retrieved. Amongst those: Box corer yielding sediment from the uppermost 50 cm of the seafloor.

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Multi corer yielding in optimum circumstances six tubes of up to 80 cm of undisturbed seafloor sediment and

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  gravity corers penetrating as deep as 6 meters into the seafloor sediment. 

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The cores were opened, described and measured (magnetic susceptibility) in the wet lab onboard the vessel and they revealed meters of various exiting kinds of maybe the finest mud ever known to mankind. The ages of the mud range from present day to way back before the Last Glacial Maximum 20.000 years ago.

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 A large proportion of the time we were inside the actual ice drift heading south via the East Greenland Current (EGC) and the sea ice/icebergs and was/were a source of constant amazement.

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An unavoidable part of cruising and coring is the waiting for material to be retrieved on deck, but fortunately this waiting left time for enjoying the fabulous arctic nature that surrounded the ship.

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The mammal wildlife on these latitudes includes whale, dolphin, walrus, seal and polar bear, while seabirds and fish were constant fellow travelers on the cruise.

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 During the cruise we have had the fortune to observe an extraordinary natural event, namely the solar eclipse on the 31. July. The eclipse was total on the northeastern shores of Svalbard and reached 90-92 % of solar coverage at our position. So everyone including the sun was smiling. This solar eclipse was the closest we came to a sunset during the cruise as the sun never set on these latitudes from may to august.

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