Expedition 347 prepares to sail by Alan Stevenson

A team of scientists and engineers from the British Geological Survey are preparing for the next expedition of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) to the Baltic Sea. Mary Mowat (BGS) has sent us some photos from the team preparing to sail from Falmouth, and Alan Stevenson (BGS) has written a few words about the overall project...... keep checking the blog for the latest updates.

Sunny day on the docks in Falmouth

The team on-board the Greatship Manisha will be joined by 17 of the 31 scientists who have been selected to carry out the research into cores collected from seven sites in the Baltic Sea. 

Preparing the Petrophysics container. 
Two of the main objectives are:
•    to gain a better understanding of the history of the Baltic Sea Basin during the last interglacial (the Eemian Interglacial) 130,000 years ago, focussing on how this period ended at the onset of the last ice age.
•    to study the influence of the Scandinavian ice Sheet on North Atlantic climate oscillations as ice advanced and retreated across the Baltic region between 100,000 and 20,000 years ago. During the most recent glacial period, the basin was intermittently free of ice during which it was occupied by lakes.  The sediments deposited in the lakes are thought to have been preserved and could contain a record of climatic development.

Another important element of the work will be to study the microbiology of the Baltic Sea basin sediments to see how microbial life responded to changes from lacustrine, brackish and marine conditions.

The project is led by Dr Thomas Andrén of Södertörn University, Sweden and Dr Bo Barker Jørgensen of Aarhus University, Denmark. The expedition will last up to 60 days and the entire Science Party will meet again at the IODP Bremen Core Repository in January 2014 to complete their analysis of the cores. You can follow the progress of the expedition on the ESO website.

Home sweet home for the next 60 days
The Baltic Sea Paleoenvironment Expedition is the 5th to be led by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) on behalf of IODP. BGS, along with partners from the universities of Bremen, Leicester, Montpellier and Aachen (known as the ECORD Science Operator – ESO) are responsible for all planning and implementation of what are known as ‘mission-specific platform’ operations.

The ECORD-led contribution to the program complements that of the United States and Japan who operate the scientific drilling vessels the JOIDES Resolution and the Chikyu. Basically, MSP operations are those that can’t be achieved by these large drilling vessels and require contracting of whichever platform is most appropriate for the work. In the past, the ESO has organised expeditions to the Arctic, Tahiti, the New Jersey coast of the USA, and the Great Barrier Reef, using a range of vessels from a converted supply ships to a jack-up liftboat. The expeditions are organisationally complex and can take several years to reach the stage when offshore operations can start.

For further information contact David McInroy (ESO Science Manager – dbm@bgs.ac.uk) or Alan Stevenson (ESO Outreach Manage – agst@bgs.ac.uk)