The Lomonosov Ridge
Received from Daniella Gredin, The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat
Edited by Jane Holst, GEUS
18 August 2009
Poisition: 88°N 155°E
Weather: Cloudy, temperature 0.7°C, wind 7 m/s
The research has entered a new phase now that we have arrived at the target area of the expedition – the Lomonosov Ridge. The activities are in full swing and during the past days many of the planned measuring stations have been established. By midnight on Tuesday 13 August, we were closing in on the slope of the Lomonosov Ridge and during the next day the area was mapped by the advanced multibeam echo sounder and a simpler echo sounder used when working on the ice.
The enormous submarine mountain chain, the Lomonosov Ridge, divides the Arctic Ocean in two – the Eurasian side and the American side. The ridge is called after Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (1711-1765), who is regarded as the father of Russian natural science.
Since we left Longyearbyen, the multibeam echo sounder has been working round the clock and two persons are always sitting by the computers on the bridge. The topography of the seabed has been varying in the different areas we have crossed. We passed the Gakkel Ridge, a large submarine mountain chain, which divides the Eurasian side of the Arctic Ocean in two basins. As a contrast to this ridge, we have also seen extremely flat abyssal planes. North of Svalbard’s northern continental shelf, the depth varied between 4317 and 4329 over a distance of more than 200 km.
The researchers are very interested in the morphology of the Lomonosov Ridge which can prove that it is a natural extension of the Canadian and Greenland continental shelf. This is important in connection with UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea concerning nations’ claims to extend the outer limits of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. So the meticulous task of preparing a bathymetric map of the topography of the ridge has begun. To cover larger areas with the echo sounder Oden made large pirouettes. Parallel to the route of Oden the researchers were flown by helicopter to locations on the ice where eight measurements with the simpler echo sounder were made. Gravity measurements were also made.
On 14 August, it is two weeks since we started the expedition and everyday life is slowly creeping in on us. We are gradually getting used to fall asleep to jolts, vibrations and heeling. Several of the expedition members are actually negotiating the treadmill in the fitness room during icebreaking. According to tradition, the Thursday dinner menu was pea soup, hot punch and pancakes. Afterwards the Danish photographer gave us an introduction to Photoshop. We have celebrated two birthdays during last week with birthday cakes for the afternoon tea. The view from the bridge is still fascinating: the ice floes, the formations and the immense white.