This equipment was developed at BAS for use on RRS James Clark Ross, although the flexibility of the design enabled the system to be fitted to other vessels with similar winch capabilities.
The system was developed in collaboration with Marine Project Developments of Hull who were responsible for the design of the handling equipment, while British Antarctic Survey engineers completed the design and manufacture of the coring system.
The Long Piston Coring System is based on the French "STACOR" system, developed by Institut Francais du Petrole, although there are subtle differences.
The main advantage of the system over other types of coring systems is the ability to take virtually undisturbed cores. This is achieved by using a stationary piston that is held in contact with the sediment surface through a series of wires and pulley wheels that are attached to a base plate on the seabed. Using this method the corer is able to penetrate the sediment under its own weight and independently of the ship's motion.
The system is modular in construction, allowing core barrel lengths of up to 30 metres long. It is also possible to vary the head weight of the system from 1500 kg to a maximum of 4500 kg, depending on seabed conditions and barrel length required.
The system was developed over a very short lead time, approximately 12 weeks from initial concept to completion of the manufacture in order to meet the planned RRS James Clark Ross scientific sea trials during October 1992. Trial assembly and deployment of the system was carried out and both the handling system and corer proved very successful.
The system was used on further cruises and performed with mixed results. More recently BAS have taken a decision to abandon this type of research and the equipment is now operated by Research Vessel Services based at Southampton Oceanography Centre