Friday, May 2, 2008

Macquarie Ridge II Voyage to the Southern Ocean

A week or so after getting back from sea I have had a chance to sit back and relax and get over my jet lag. I was on the 3 pm to 3 am shift, so it felt like jet lag having to get back to a normal routine. I have also had a chance to contemplate everything that I have learnt from this month long trip. This was my second trip out on the RV Tangaroa and the first on where I was in charge of the geology team!

It was an interesting voyage due to its multidisciplinary nature and I learnt a lot about oceanography and seamount biology. I have to admit that because of the multidisciplinary nature it was also quite a frustrating as the geology part seemed to get the short straw and the time we had for coring often coincided with the bad weather! Not totally unsurprising given the fact that we were on the Southern Ocean. We only managed to get 6 sediment cores during the whole trip. However, it was only supposed to be a reconnaissance trip for the geology coring, so in that respect it was a successful trip as I have a much better idea where I would focus the coring efforts next time.

Actually we were really lucky with the weather - we only lost 4 days of so over the 4 and a half week trip. The original trip was supposed to go a month earlier, but we got pushed back because of the NIWA International Polar Year trip to the Ross Sea in Antarctica. Unlike the last trip I did on the Tangaroa we didn't see any land once we left the Fiordland coast, SW of the south island of New Zealand. We should have seen Macquarie Island, but we went past it during the night. We knew we were close to the island because we had regular visits from the Gentoo Penguins that live on Macquarie Island. We also saw a couple of whales during the voyage and lots and lots of birds!

So hopefully I will get another opportunity to go back to the area in a few years time. The first look at the cores suggests that they are all very different and it is obviously a very bizarre and fascinating area. The seamount sleds also got quite a few interesting rocks, so hopefully I will find a student interested in petrology to look at them and piece together the hard rock story from this region.

10 m waves on the Southern Ocean

One of the calm days!

Barnacles from one of the deep sleds.


Octopus from the deep.

The geology boys, Pete and Dylan, deploying the gravity core.

Life at sea can make you a little crazy - Peppe and Andrea in the coring lab.

The whole gang!

All kitted up in my Antarctic gear ready to go outside!

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