August 6, 2015, Evening: Mud People

It was too windy this morning for CTD operations (measuring water temperature, salinity, and oxygen at depth and taking water samples in a “rosette” of bottles hung on a cable). In the open ocean this would not be a problem, but wind causes the ship to drift off station, and in tight quarters with ice and rocky walls, that isn’t a great idea. So through the “night” (which is full daylight) we focused on a “sparker” survey – trying to image the glacial till that lies under the sediment.

After breakfast we finished our supply of the ice shelf team, and made a cache of fuel and extra equipment for them on land – that way we can use the helicopters efficiently; if we are far away they can still get the spares to the drilling team with a short hop over the ice rather than a long flight over open water. This is much safer and saves fuel. We also sent a helicopter out to help the boulder team – we are giving them lots of helo support while we are nearby “Oden’s Washington Land taxi service”; as with the ice shelf team this would be hard to do when we are across Hall Basin and far away.

CoringMud peopleBut wait! There’s more! We went coring. All of Murphy’s Laws apply, of course – after selecting our first coring site from the earlier survey as we made our way into the fjord, we discovered that the 3 km tabular iceberg that broke off the ice shelf has drifted down-fjord and is now lying directly over our preferred site. So another change in plans… we maneuvered past the berg, into the sea ice out near the mouth of the fjord, and we are now coring. Great! Our first two cores are on deck, and a third – a big piston core – is in the water. The mud people are jumping for joy!

Looking forward, the wind has died, and ice reconnaissance shows the sea ice in Hall Basin is breaking up and drifting to the south. Winds from the north will accelerate this movement, and that will open up many more options in the next few days. And with no wind, we will start the delayed CTD transects. All our teams are now active, and the excitement is building.



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