by Tina van De Flierdt
Below you can see a picture of our ship track on the Antarctic shelf over the past few days. The curly line is the result of quite difficult ice conditions with huge icebergs and some sea ice in the area where our targeted drill sites are. Earlier this week we had to sit out a storm, caused by a significant low pressure system going through the area. This was done away from the shelf, where there is only very little ice, making it a safer place to be in rough seas. On Tuesday we started the journey back to the continental shelf, to drill some more material that tells us about the transition from the Greenhouse world into the icehouse world. On the shelf this transition can be found in only a few hundred meters depth below the seafloor (ice advances and retreats over the past ~34 million years have scraped off the younger deposits from the shallow ocean floor). In contrast, at the deep water site where we drilled first, the Greenhouse-icehouse transition was down at ~900m below the seafloor.
Our ship’s track is such a wiggly line, as we had to find our way through a lot of ice. The captain and the ship’s crew are doing a fantastic job, in trying to get us back on site, but drilling on the shelf of Antarctica is not a trivial task. We are lucky that we recovered some amazing cores already, and we still hope to get some more. However, the weather window (it is summer down here at the moment) will close eventually, and most of our targeted drill sites will be covered with ice for the winter. But we have about two weeks of science time left before we will return to Hobart (Tasmania). Keep your fingers crossed that we not only get more wonderful sunny days with gorgeous icebergs, but that the icebergs stay far enough away from us so that we can continue our scientific mission and get more spectacular core material!