August 4, 2015: Mowing the Lawn

If you can see the ship locations at http://oden.geo.su.se/map/
you can see us going back and forth mapping (“mowing the lawn”)in Nares Strait between Petermann Fjord and Bessel’s Fjord. Just turning in front of an iceberg right now — berg is maybe 150-200 ft across and about 30 feet above the water, suggesting that it might be 100 feet deep. The fjord walls rising above the ocean are almost vertical, going up about 3000 feet, and going simiilarly underwater for about 1500 feet (or in some areas about 3000 feet. So there is nearly 6000 feet of nearly vertical relief. Some waterfalls are coming off the plateau above, some glacial ice falls down almost to the water. Some of the waterfalls are clear water, some are muddy soup, and where they spray onto the ocean the ice becomes dirty. Imagine Petermann as Yosemite Valley in California, but much much bigger, and the vertical walls are ancient layered rocks, more like Grand Canyon in Arizona. Bessels Fjord is similar, but only about a mile across. We may try to go in there — there is no bathymetric map, so we would need to go in with a small boat first to check the depths in front of the ship; running aground here Petermann Mouthwould not be very popular. Although Petermann Fjord it is safer for seafloor, it contains more sea ice and icebergs.

A piece of the Petermann Ice Shelf broke off the north side of the ice front in the past few days forming a tabular iceberg about 3 km across. Looks like there is one on other side that might break off also, perhaps not while we are here. Our team on the ice is behind the cracks on firmer ice.

We’ve had to change plans many times and retreat to get through the ice and deal with the shifting weather. This causes frustration, and everyone is pretty tired.

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