Text and photos: Remi Vachon
WEDNESDAY, October 30, 2019. It is my first time on a research vessel. Needless to say, I was very excited about the idea of going on a scientific adventure for three weeks. We started 10 days ago and even though the initial excitement has worn off a bit, I am still amazed by the landscape we are passing through. Witnessing the sea ice is truly a once in a lifetime experience. A bit of presentation: I am Rémi Vachon, a postdoc fellow from CAGE, Tromsø, involved in the SEAMSTRESS project managed by Andreia Plaza-Faverola. I was sent to research vessel Kronprins Haakon in order to test the geomechanical properties and orientation of the calypso cores. From those measurements, and other investigations, we aim to constrain the regional stress at specific locations along the Vestnessa ridge, a key area for gas hydrate formation.
We have various tools to our disposition. One of them, the magnetic sensor, is used to calculate the angle between the long axis of the sensor and the geomagnetic north. When fixed on the Calypso corer, the sensor gives us the absolute orientation of the core at any time. There is however one potential problem: The sensor is attached to a huge weight (see picture below), partially made of steel which generates its own magnetic field and has a big influence on the orientation data recorded by the magnetic sensor. We are, unfortunately, not yet certain that the orientations we are collecting will be of any use.
Most of the work we do takes place on the main deck. When receiving the calypso or gravity cores (length varying from 10 to 20 m so far), the 6 m long liners containing the sediments are cut into 1 m long sections by Martin, our team leader and expert “sawsman” . Then, each member of the team oversees a specific task. Marianna and Carmen label the sections and look at the lithology, Lina and Simone measure the density, the water and gas content of the sediment, Danielle and Kristin are looking for ancient DNA (to later open their own Jurassic park) and I test the shear strength on each section with my portable shear tester ( see photo below). When we are flooded with work, the second team (Renata, Ragga, Nessim, Steve, Sacha and Griselda) comes to support us, which definitely lightens our burden. According to the cruise leader, Jochen Knies, we are doing a good job onboard, everything is going smoothly, and we are currently even ahead of schedule.
The last four days have been very hectic though, as we didn’t have much transit between the stations (transit = chilling on a scientific cruise). Today should allow for some more free time and a perfect opportunity to reload our batteries. Tomorrow, we will be back to the SEAMSTRESS sites of interest. Hopefully, all the coring will go smoothly 😊.