20 december 2018

46 Days At Sea

It is a small miracle that despite the high number of scientists and all the different travelling routes to the harbour of embarkment, Suva, Fiji – for most of us literally the other side of the world – only 1 package of luggage did not make it, yet. We are 39 scientists with 7 different nationalities, and on the 10th of December 2018, we embarked the German research vessel RV ‘Sonne’.

The RV Sonne is headed for the Lau Basin in the Southwest Pacific. It will be a long stay at sea: 46 days, without getting to port. This means the ship is pushed to her limits, as the maximum amount of days the RV Sonne can safely stay at sea is 52 days.

While the ship is lying in the harbour, being fueled up in the broadest sense of the word, the scientists spread through the vessel, to unpack containers, learn the safety instructions and digest there first meal. Yes, even though we are not sailing yet, these are busy times.

We are investigating the rifting and break-up of the Earth’s crust at the edge of a new continent that is emerging in the oceanic domain

During our time on sea, I will blog about the goings on aboard the RV Sonne, the progress of data acquisition and first results. We expect a good catch of data of course, but times at sea are unpredictable, so we’ll only know our final findings in 43 working days from now. The Archimedes-I cruise is very diverse in terms of data acquisition. There will be geophysical data acquisition (including seismic, bathymetric, magnetic and heat flow) but there will also be extensive mapping, sample recovery through dredging on the ocean floor, and there is even an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) that will investigate the bottom of the ocean in great detail, all by itself.

The ultimate goal of the Archimedes-I cruise is to investigate the rifting and break-up of the Earth’s crust at the edge of a new continent that is emerging in the oceanic domain. In some locations valuable mineral deposits are formed in this setting, but not always. The Lau Basin presents a complex system but also an excellent model of the origin of crust, including different geological hazards as well as potential future resources. This is what the Archimedes-I cruise is all about: understanding the crustal processes in the oceanic domain to be able to predict future geological hazards and resources on the continents where we live.

The scientists of the Archimedes-I cruise on the RV Sonne have a mission. We are ready for take-off. The sun is shining bright on this side of the world and we truly hope the lost luggage will arrive on time. We wish the scientists and crew good luck and fair winds, may your mood stay positive and let Neptune be gentle on you.

Fare well!

This is a somewhat adjusted version of the blog as published on the Archimedes-1 website on 11 December 2018.

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