Text and photos: Mariana da Silveira Ramos Esteves, Follow Mariana on Twitter for more Arctic science updates: @tweetmariana
After some days of delays testing equipment, weather holds, and sea sickness, there was a renewed energy on the morning of day four. Finally(!) the first coring equipment was deployed and we couldn’t wait to see what we would get and to get started with the core processing! The first four cores to come on deck were from the multi-corer: one core was immediately sampled for later sediment analyses; two of the cores were sampled for DNA analyses; and the last core was stored in the cooling room as an archive.
While the first cores from the multi-corer were being cleaned, labelled and sampled, the calypso corer technicians were busy on deck in the cold teaching the ships crew how to prepare the giant calypso corer for deployment. Since this was the first time that the giant calypso corer was being used on the RV Kronprins Haakon, it took a couple of hours set everything up. Team work is key on a ship, helping to make the core flow procedures work efficiently. Particularly since we were using three different types of coring instruments, a multi-corer, a gravity corer, and a giant calypso corer, which have the possibility to collect up to 50cm, 6m, and 30m respectively. All these instruments require a lot of attention during the deployment and retrieval, meaning that scientists, technicians and the ship’s crew have to work together to make this work.
Warm clothing and good waterproof gloves (and lots of warm tea and chocolate) are essential when working out on the deck, as the freezing temperatures make it very difficult to stay outside for prolonged periods. Without any complaints about the cold the crew and the technicians work tirelessly to make this research cruise a success. Within a couple of hours the giant calypso corer was set up and ready to be used, as the scientists on board gathered around to watch the deployment, eagerly awaiting to see how much sediment would be recovered.
The deployment of the giant calypso corer is relatively straight forward. The calypso corer is lowered through the water column until it reaches a few metres above the seafloor. Then it is important for the ship to identify the desired core location. Once this is identified, the piston is released allowing it to drop into the seafloor under its own weight (check out the colourful square weights on the calypso corer!, collecting (hopefully) a long palaeo-climate record. This core is then brought back to the ship, where it is essential to keep washing it with warm water to prevent the core liner from freezing to the steel core barrel.
To help the time pass once everything is prepared for the core processing and while waiting for the giant calypso corer to return to the vessel, there were a lot of discussions and guesses on how long the core would be, as well as a little yoga to keep everyone flexible and strong for carrying the heavy 1 metre core section, which can weigh up to 10kg each.
While the whole process involved with using the giant calypso corer took a few hours the first time round, once the cores were on deck, the RV Kronprins Haakon had many happy and excited scientists on board working efficiently to label, sample, and store these cores for future work. Let’s hope for many more successful stations!