by Núria Casacuberta |
The 18th of July was an important date: the GRIFF expedition started!!! 52 scientists from 10 different countries, together with 45 crew members, left Tromsø onboard one of the most supreme research vessels: Polarstern. We left a grey and rainy day behind us, but excitement was shinning in all our faces while sailing through the fjords to reach the open ocean. For some of us, this was not the first time on Polarstern, so it felt like coming back home after a long break. For others, everything looked new and intriguing. During the first hours we scanned each corner of the 34-year-old ship and we chat to each other with enthusiasm trying to find out who belong to what and why. For the next 7 weeks, Polarstern would be our home, and colleagues our new family.
The first two days Polarstern turned into a busy and crowded city, especially on the E-deck, where all labs are located. A big traffic jam was formed trying to get boxes in-and-out and up-and-down from the different containers. Everybody was anxious to check that all their equipment was onboard and nothing imperative had been left on land. Little by little, the empty labs came back to life, instruments were tested for the first time and different devices were getting ready to be deployed. When corridors started to clear out, one could not avoid feeling that the first big scientific event would happen soon: the deployment of the Ocean Bottom Seismometers (OBS). These imposing orange devices filled the entire working corridor, placed one after the other and queuing to jump into the deep ocean. Three days after the start of this expedition, 10 of these instruments have been successfully deployed by Vera and Henning and they will remain there for the next 14 months to measure the earthquake activity of Knipovich ridge, the plate boundary in the North Atlantic where Eurasia and North America drift apart (you can find exiting results of their work in the Southwest Indian Ridge here). This first achievement was followed by a test station where the large volume rosette was tested and the first seawater samples collected. Biologists, geochemists, geologists and physical oceanographers: we are now all ready to start this transect across the Fram Strait and see the ocean from different perspectives.
Personally, I feel as excited as a kid during Christmas time, anxious to open the presents under the tree. This time, presents are seawater samples and the tree a large volume rosette.