LOMROG III Expedition reaches the North Pole
August 22, 2012
On board the Swedish icebreaker Oden
Position: 90oN, North Pole
Weather: -0.1oC, westerly wind, sunshine
During a cruise in the Arctic Ocean with the Swedish icebreaker Oden, a Danish-Swedish expedition reached the geographical North Pole on August 22 at 21:43 (UTC), precisely three years after the LOMROG II expedition reached the North Pole. The aim of the expedition is to collect scientific data for the Continental Shelf Project of the Kingdom of Denmark in order to document a claim for an extended continental shelf to the north of Greenland beyond the present 200 nautical mile zone.
The North Pole was covered by 10/10 of sea ice and Oden had to break through heavy sea ice, especially during the last few nautical miles. Heavy sea ice was encountered during much of the journey on the way to the North Pole.
This was Oden’s seventh time at the North Pole and the arrival was celebrated in a very traditional way by raising the flags of all the countries represented on board. After a glass of sparkling wine on the bridge and a group photo on the sea ice in front of Oden, the ship continued its scientific program with a geological coring site close to the North Pole.
A total of 66 crew members and scientists are onboard Oden, which is a 108-m-long polar icebreaker with a power of 25.000 hp. The cruise began in Longyearbyen on Svalbard (Norway) on July 31 and is scheduled to end at the same location on September 14.
The main objective of the expedition is to acquire the necessary documentation to extend the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The area around the North Pole was the target area for this year’s mapping program for which two data types are the most important: (1) water depth (also called bathymetric data) to document the morphology of the seabed, and (2) seismic reflection data used to map the thickness of sediment below the seabed.
The cruise has now passed its half-way point and the achievements for the continental shelf project include:
- Using the advanced multibeam echo sounder on Oden, very detailed bathymetric data have been collected on the flank of the Lomonosov Ridge facing the Amundsen Basin. Data was acquired in several areas where there was previously no coverage. Additional water depth measurements were made with a portable echo sounder system that was deployed by helicopter on the sea ice.
- Seismic reflection and refraction data were acquired in the Amundsen Basin and can be used to determine the sediment thickness. Due to the heavy ice conditions, Oden must break a lead twice before data acquisition can commence. Additional seismic reflection and refraction data will be acquired in the second half of the cruise.
- Two successful dredging operations were performed along the steep flanks of the Lomonosov Ridge. A total of approximately 300 kg of rock samples were recovered (see photo).
- The Earth’s gravity field is being measured continuously with a gravimeter installed on board.
- Measurements of sound velocity of the water column are carried out regularly to calculate precise depths from the multibeam echo sounder. This is done by lowering a “CTD” into the water, which is also used to collect water samples. Water samples are taken as deep as 4400 meters.
In addition to the continental shelf project, several Danish and Swedish science projects are attached to the LOMROG III expedition. These include geological, biological, water and ice sampling programs that are taking advantage of the rare opportunity to work in regions of the world that are normally difficult to access.
The LOMROG III cruise is carried out in cooperation with the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat. The Danish Continental Shelf Project is embedded within the Danish Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation . The following Danish institutions are participating in the cruise: the Danish Agency for Maritime Safety, DTU – Space, the Danish Meteorological Institute, the University of Aarhus, and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, which is the project manager for the Greenlandic part of the Danish Continental Shelf Project. In addition, the Greenland Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum is represented on board.
Christian Marcussen, Chief Scientist