Exploring the Environmental History of the Baltic Sea: IODP Expedition 347 begins

Posted by lcb14 at Sep 17, 2013 09:40 AM |
IODP Expedition 347 will core and log the sedimentary succession preserved beneath the Baltic Sea. The expedition will provide detailed information on environmental changes in the region over the past 140,000 years.
Exploring the Environmental History of the Baltic Sea: IODP Expedition 347 begins

Annette McGrath beside the Greatship Manisha during the week-long mobilisation phase in Falmouth.

The Greatship Manisha left port in Kiel on the 12th of September to make the short transit to the first of seven drill-sites located in the sub-basins of the Baltic Sea. The start of IDOP Expedition 347 will realize the scientific proposal lead by co-chiefs Tomas Andren and Bo Bakker-Jorgenson and represents the culmination of years of planning for the ECORD Science Operator. The ECORD Science Operator comprises the British Geological Survey, the University of Bremen (MARUM) and the European Petrophysics Consortium (University of Leicester lead with the Universities of Aachen and Montpellier).

The Baltic Sea Basin region has experienced repeated glaciations of different magnitude, large shifts in sedimentation patterns and high sedimentation rates and is sensitive to responses to sea level. Its position also makes it a unique link between Eurasian and NW European terrestrial records.

The overarching objectives of the expedition are to:

    • understand the history of the Baltic Sea Basin during a warm interval 130,000 years ago with particular focus on how this era ended at the onset of the last ice age;
    • study the dynamic of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet that waxed and waned over the Baltic region between 100,000 and 20,000 years ago and to better understand whether this ice sheet caused climatic fluctuations or if it simply responded to climatic changes during this period;
    • investigate how microbial life responded to the transitions between past glacial and interglacial periods and to specifically study the responses to major shifts between lake, brackish water, marine and terrestrial stages of the Baltic region;
    • show how the ecosystem has responded to climate change during the last 20,000 years, prior to any human influence.

      Logging tools (left) alongside Weatherford’s containers ready for set-up on the Greatship Manisha.
      Logging tools (left) alongside Weatherford’s containers ready for set-up on the Greatship Manisha.
      To realize the expedition’s scientific objectives, the ECORD Science Operator has adapted the Greatship Manisha, installing a drill rig to core these sediments and providing the customized facilities that are required to analyse and store the cores retrieved from beneath the sea floor. The European Petrophysics Consortium has organized the core petrophysics and downhole logging programme for Expedition 347. Annick Fehr (Aachen) and Annette McGrath (Leicester) are on board the Greatship Manisha and will be working offshore on the expedition for 60 days on behalf of the ECORD Science Operator. Weatherford Wireline Services will be undertaking the downhole logging; a series of measurements will made by lowering energy sources and sensors through a pipe and into an open hole in the sea bed. The measurements provide in situ data on properties of the sediments below the sea bed and form an integral and important part of the scientific study.

      The expedition will continue with the onshore phase at the Core Repository (Marum, Bremen, Germany) in January 2014 when the core will be split and described, and the remaining measurements will be undertaken.

      Follow the expedition’s progress in blogs, daily reports, news releases, and images on the expedition website.

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