LOMROG 2007, Field Report no. 4
27 August 2007, High-speed research, heavy ice and change of route
When the core has been extracted, it is cut into smaller lengths and brought to the laboratory for registration, photography and analysis. Photo: Swedish Polar Research SecretariatEnlarge
The researchers are working round the clock on the Oden when needed. During the crayfish party a CTD measurement was performed. Sofia Hjalmarsson and Sara Jutterström from the University of Gothenburg worked all night wearing the party hats. Photo: Björn Eriksson.Enlarge
One of the officers on the 50 Let Pobedy checks his monitor to see if the Oden is too far behind. Photo: Swedish Polar Research Secretariat. Enlarge
Captain Dimiitrij on the Pobedy has been extremely helpful. Here he is in the company of among others Christian Marcussen (left) and the Russian researcher, Leonid Polyak (also from the Oden, right), who was interpreting when needed. Photo: Swedish Polar Research Secretariat.Enlarge
Received from Sofia Rickberg, Swedish Polar Research Secretariat
Edited by Jane Holst and Torsten Hoelstad, GEUS
During the past few days the Oden has been stuck several times in the very heavy ice. The Russian ice-breaker '50 Let Pobedy' who has been escorting us, has had a few problems with getting us free of the ice. The two ships are the first surface vessels ever to have been in these areas. And for a good reason: the ice. It is heavy and compact and fractures or open water are very seldom seen. Everything is white as far as you can see; the monotony is broken only by a few light blue, melt-water pools on top of the ice. The sky is white, or grey white. Blue sky is rarely seen, and only in small patches. We get snow almost every day now, due to the sub-zero temperatures. The visibility is poor.
The research activity on board is intensive despite the poor weather and ice conditions. All lengthy stops are exploited to the full with water (CTD) and sediment sampling. The result from the new multibeam on the Oden and the first sediment cores taken from the Lomonosov Ridge were exactly what the researcher were looking for, says Martin Jakobsson, Stockholm University. The results confirm the hypothesis that during the earlier ice-ages there were enormous shelf-ice areas, just as we find them in the Antarctic today.
The route of the expedition has been changed radically due to the very heavy ice. Our Russian friends on the Pobedy will have to take us away from the heaviest ice into an area where the Oden can navigate without assistance and return to Svalbard. New research activities will be planned, most likely to take place near the Morris Jesup Rise. That is an area the Danish researchers had planned to investigate in a few years, but since we go past the area and the schedule permits it, they might as well do some of the work on this expedition. So, the Pobedy will not lead us through the ice for much longer, but will soon head for its home port of Murmansk. As a consequence of the difficult ice conditions, the Pobedy has problems with its propeller, which has to be adjusted. The Oden would never have reached this far, if we had not been assisted by the Pobedy. The ice conditions have been more difficult than we could imagine. Some of us has had a guided tour onboard the impressive ship, and the Russian captain and his crew have been very co-operative in every way.
When the Danish seismic cable got stuck in the ice, Pobedy performed a very impressive 'rescue' operation. The cable - more than 400 m long at a price of close to 3000 DKK per meter - was stuck between the ice floes in several places. We tried to disentangle it using the helicopter, but to no avail. The Russian ice-breaker undertook on its own accord the 'rescue' operation by means of hawsers, cranes and precision manoeuvring - with success. At certain points the suspense was unbearable, but the result was good! The cable now has to be transferred to us the next time we visit the Pobedy. We will bring them our finest gifts!
2 September 2007, Goodbye to the Pobedy! Hello to Morris Jesup!
Position: 85° 15.55'N, 014° 31.66'W
Weather: -2,5°C, no wind, cloudy, light snow
After almost two weeks' expedition together in the most difficult waters of the northern Arctic Ocean, the two ice-breakers 50 Let Pobedy and Oden separated. On Wednesday, we invited the captain and ten of his crew to a farewell reception. Gifts and posters with our route marked on a map and signed by all present were exchanged. It was a bit solemn and good fun at the same time. After the more official part, someone played the piano and the accordion, and there was a bit of singing and dancing as well. To meet and separate in the great white is something very special. After having been very close to the same people on board for a few weeks, it is good to see some new faces. Our new-found Russian friends left us on Friday, after they had led us to an area from where the Oden can manoeuvre without assistance. The departure was a fine sight. With a Russian march from the First World War booming from the loudspeakers, the Pobedy was speeding through the ice and everybody on both ships waved goodbye. Leonid Polyak - our Russian researcher onboard from the Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University in USA - told us that the name of the march was 'Slavanka', and now everyone is humming the tune.
The area we have reached after we left the difficult ice is called the Morris Jesup Rise. It is a submarine ridge running north from the northernmost point of Greenland. It is called after one of the sponsors of the American Robert Peary's Arctic expeditions at the beginning of the 1900s. The area is of extreme interest to all researchers onboard, since there are only very few data from it. We started the survey with a thorough scanning by means of the multibeam, which gives us 3D photos of the seabed and its underlying layers. We are circling slowly to get as detailed as possible photos of the seabed. When the sediment layers on the screen have an interesting structure, more investigations are started. First, water samples are taken (CTD), they can be valuable for the interpretation of the sediments. Then a sediment sample is taken. The core, landed on the deck, is carried to the geology laboratory for analyses and description. And then it starts all over again. Circling, finding a suitable place, taking water (CTD) and sediment samples. The helicopter also drops people on the ice where they take gravity and bathymetric measurements. Like an intricate dance - it all happens so fast and repeatedly. Even during the traditional, Swedish crayfish party yesterday, the researcher often had to leave the table to take samples (photo 8) and CTD measurements. Who knows, it may never be possible again to have a combined crayfish and research party at the Morris Jesup Rise!
Almost all members of the expedition were on deck to wave goodbye, when the 50 Let Pobedy left for its home port of Murmansk. Photo: Swedish Polar Research Secretariat.Enlarge
Dennis Anthony from the Royal Danish Administration of Navigation and Hydrography works with the multibeam. To the left an origami model is seen. It illustrates how the multibeam measures into the water. Photo: Swedish Polar Research Secretariat.Enlarge
It takes a lot of manpower and three strong winches to extract a sediment core. The winches hoist the sample unit and keep it in balance. Photo: Swedish Polar Research SecretariatEnlarge
The CTD rosette measures the salinity, temperature and depth and takes water samples at various depths in its many bottles. Photo: Swedish Polar Research Secretariat.Enlarge