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17 February 2002 - It's time for geoscience!

RRS James Clark Ross Diary

Position at 1200: 66° 27.0'S, 71° 0.0'W - Just to the west of Adelaide Is (Near Rothera)
Distance Travelled since Grimsby: 25382 Nautical Miles
Air temperature: 2.1°C; Sea temperature: 1.4°C
Weather : Overcast, occasional snow showers, moderate sea and swell.

Current, frequent weather observations reported back to BAS Headquarters in Cambridge is used to plot the ship's current position and recent track. Meteorological data are also available from this page. The callsign of RRS James Clark Ross is ZDLP.

All change here please.....all change!

Well firstly sorry for the lack of an update last week, this was because we were in Stanley at the end of JR70 and the beginning of JR71. There was not an awful lot to say anyway as we had covered most of it in previous weeks. So yes we arrived in Stanley to a typical Falklands day, brilliant sunshine but a little windy. After tying up at FIPASS (the dock there) it was all go to de-mobilise the last cruise, this meant everything from the labs and decks had to be packed away into containers, and then stored ashore to be collected later. Once the labs are empty they are cleaned out and inspected by the PSO and Chief Officer before being signed back to the ship. As soon as this is done the next bunch of scientists can start to move in. In this case we had some time between the old bunch leaving and the new arriving as they were crossing over at the airport! While in Stanley, Sarah our travel correspondent/doctor went out and stayed on one of the smaller islands for a couple of days, her photos are worth a look.

At the end of cruise dinner. Click to enlargeThis seems like a good time to say goodbye to Pete Ward and all of the bio-sciences team, thank-you for a good cruise and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Once the decks were clear they were immedietly being cluttered up with the familiar shapes of the BGS vibro-corer and all of the other bits they have brought with them.....including THE bench! (See Update 92, Summer 2001) This was joined by a strange beast, to me anyway, in the form of a piston corer.....I am sure there will be more on this later!

So it's geo-science time....

The science team for JR71 is led by Carol Pudsey (BAS) and jointly for the first week or so, until we get to Rothera, Julian Dowdeswell from the Scott Polar Research Institute

Swath bathymetry, TOPAS profiling and coring in Marguerite Bay and the Larsen Ice Shelf - NW Weddell Sea area

Cruise JR71, led by Dr Carol Pudsey (BAS), will include geophysical surveying and sediment coring on the continental margins both east and west of the northern Antarctic Peninsula. It will provide material for the BAS core programme SAGES (Signals in Antarctica of Global ChangES) and two Antarctic Funding Initiative projects.

Swath bathymetric survey and TOPAS sub-bottom profiling will be undertaken in the continental shelf area exposed after breakup of the northern Larsen Ice Shelf in 1995. This is a follow-up to BAS cruise JR48, which undertook preliminary bathymetric survey and coring in the same area in Feb-March 2000. High-resolution geophysical data will aid interpretation of the sedimentary environments beneath grounded ice and floating ice shelves. This survey is planned to include the continental shelf, slope and rise in the NW Weddell Sea. A few seismic profiles will be acquired to investigate the occurrence of Mesozoic sedimentary rocks beneath the continental shelf. Vibrocores, piston cores and box cores will be taken on the continental shelf, slope and continental rise. The cores will reveal the glacial history of this part of Antarctica, in particular the details of the most recent deglaciation and climate fluctuations within the last 10,000 years.

Swath bathymetric and TOPAS survey together with coring will also be carried out on the outer shelf, slope and rise adjacent to Marguerite Bay at 71°W. This is an AFI project led by Prof. Julian Dowdeswell (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge). The aim is to investigate Late Quaternary ice-rafting of rock debris, the nature of past ice extent and dynamics in Marguerite Bay. This part of the cruise builds on a swath and TOPAS survey undertaken on JR59 last season. The mapping of sedimentary bedforms on the outer shelf allows the dimensions of a former fast-flowing ice stream present at the Last Glacial Maximum to be defined. Study of the sea floor sediments, which provided the deforming bed of the former ice stream, will enhance our understanding of conditions beneath ice streams.

Underway measurements will include total magnetic field, seawater temperature and salinity. A CGI project led by Dr Jenny Pike (University of Cardiff) will involve the collection of surface water samples from the ship's uncontaminated seawater supply, to compare modern phytoplankton assemblages with the diatom record in cores. A recent addition to the cruise programme is an oceanographic transect in the northwestern Weddell Sea. This year the distribution of Weddell Sea pack ice is unusual (it does not seem to have moved in the usual clockwise circulation) and very little dense bottom water was found in Drake Passage earlier this season. If the water mass properties in the main outflow pathway of the Weddell Sea prove to be substantially different from previous years, this could have interesting implications for the oceans thermohaline circulation.

The night before we left Stanley a reception was held on board by the director of BAS, the only problem there was that because the Tristar flight to the Falklands was delayed 24hrs because of the weather, he was not there! The party was hosted, in his absence, by the Master. We hope all those who attended enjoyed it anyway.

Interview with.....

Along for the Stanley-Rothera leg of this JR71 cruise are Sir Crispin Tickell and Chris Rapley, BAS director. They were interviewed by fellow visitor Jocelyn Kaiser, reporter for Science magazine in Washington, DC.

Sir Crispin is a former British diplomat and an environmentalist who, while not a scientist by training, has ''always been interested in the relationship between science and politics.'' He has advised Margaret Thatcher, John Major, and Tony Blair on environmental topics, and most recently was a member of a Government Task Force on the risks of Near Earth Objects. Sir Crispin's interest in Antarctica goes back to a stint in the 1950s heading the Falkland Islands and Antarctic desk of the British Foreign Office. He later wrote a book on Climate Change and World Affairs. His last diplomatic post was British Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He then became head of Green College, Oxford. Despite a lifetime of travelling--and being an advisor to BAS since 1998--Sir Crispin has never been to Antarctica. ''When the director was kind enough to invite me to come, I said, you bet! When you've been thinking about something for 45 years, you want to see what it's like on the ground.''

BAS director Chris Rapley, by contrast, is a frequent Antarctic visitor and was at Rothera just a couple weeks ago with the chief executive of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). He says he's glad to host ''people interested in BAS who can influence our future.'' Prof. Rapley is also happy to be on a BAS scientific cruise with a university scientist, Cambridge glaciologist Julian Dowdeswell, who competed successfully for support under the Antarctic Funding Initiative, a relatively new source of funding open to scientists outside BAS. Rapley notes that it was Julian who proposed the swath bathymetry system on the JCR that is mapping parts of the Antarctic sea floor in unprecedented detail. Seeing it in operation is ''very exciting,'' Rapley says.

Southwards again

At 5pm on Tuesday we let go from FIPASS and were off to begin JR71, we had quite a quick crossing of Drake Passage with all four of our engines running flat out, this is to save us some time for science later and is not normal. The swath bathemetry was switched on almost as soon as we were out of the harbour and worked surprisingly well considering the speed we were doing, also we were rolling a little which doesn't normally help (and kept a few people very quiet!)

Watch the soup.. Click to enlarge Rocking us to sleep. Click to enlarge

These pictures show our normal view out of the bridge window when it is rough. The one at night shows what we see with all three searchlights on.

DANGER (LIONS) by Sarah Hortop, JCR travel correspondent and doctor.

Having been on the JCR since she left Grimsby last September, I was very much looking forward to spending a couple of nights on dry land, and sleeping in a bed that didn't need an immersion suit stuffed under the edge in order to stay in it. So armed with a camera, walking boots and heaps of film, I was off to one of the outer Falkland Islands.

My departure day was very windy, but luckily FIGAS (Falkland Islands Government Air Services) goes where the RAF Tristar fears to fly. These small twin-engine aircraft provide a vital "bus service" between the islands. After a bumpy but scenic 45-minute flight, going via Mount Pleasant Airport (MPA) to collect more passengers, we landed on Sealion Island.

Sealion is the most southerly inhabited island of the Falklands. It is five miles long, just over a mile at its widest point, and is teeming with wildlife. We were made very welcome on arrival, even by the pet sheep who greeted us at the gate, and I was surprised to find a very comfortable lodge awaiting us - a far cry from the backpackers' bunks I had half expected!

I spent a very relaxing two days, with good food - local produce, including a Falklands special, Diddle Dee jam - and going for long walks around the island (a luxury when you are used to being able to only go a maximum of 100m in the same direction). I was amused to come across a path with a sign warning: Danger Lions), but soon discovered why, as further down the beach were groups of Sealions playing in the water with their pups. The wildlife was amazing with 47 resident bird species on the island, including birds of prey and penguins I saw Magellanics, Kings, Gentoos,and for the first time, Rockhoppers,all with chicks nearby, and spent lots of time crawling about in the, I'll call it mud (for politness), with my camera. The inquisitive penguins were quick to investigate me sitting quietly among them, coming close in order to get a better look, and providing me with great photo opportunities.

I came across Elephant seals lying across the beach, and ended up scaling the small cliff to the path above by means of pulling myself up through the tussock grass, to give them a wider berth, and was diverted from my wanderings once again when I was dive bombed from above by small terns protecting their nests some distance further down the beach.

Killer whales are also frequent visitors around the island, with its rich supply of food for them, though none were seen whilst I was there. The time went all to quickly and I was sad to leave, having immensely enjoyed my short visit to Sealion Island. The night before leaving, the sunset was beautiful, and the following day provided clear skies for some great views of Stanley and the James Clark Ross alongside as we flew back to Stanley airport and real life, with the next science cruise down to the Antarctic Peninsula to look forward to.

Smartly dressed people of the week....

So Cambridge only has one clothes shop....Click to enlargeThis is the entire cast of JR70, dressed to impress in their survival suits and lifejackets for a drill.

Thank-yous for this week and coming up next week.....

Hamish for photos, Joceyln for the interviews (and thanks to her interviewees for letting her do it) Sarah for the jolly, all those people who have sent us some feedback about the webpage.

We are going into Rothera on the 20th to disembark some passengers and cargo to discharge and load, before then we are 'mowing the lawn' with the swath and doing some coring and after Rothera we are heading around into the Weddell Sea on the other side of the peninsula.