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Arctic Expedition Fall 2022 – Log 2

Arctic Expedition Fall 2022 – Log 2

Research updates:

Virginia Brake and Eve Lundsten

Greetings from the Canadian Beaufort Sea! The IBRV Araon departed Utqiagvik (Barrow), Alaska, on August 24 and entered Canadian waters on August 26. Thus far, data collection has focused in and around the Mackenzie Trough and the edge of the continental slope. Data collection has included: seafloor mapping and sub-bottom profile data collected from the Araon, many types of sediment cores to help us understand the character of the seafloor, water column measurements, plankton samples, and as of August 30,  MBARI’s ROV and AUVs have been surveying the seafloor.

Each day on board the ship starts with a science meeting where we discuss the daily plan and get our marching orders for the day. In addition to KOPRI and MBARI, several other groups are present—the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), the Naval Research Lab (NRL), Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTEC), a representative of the Korean Navy, a marine mammal observer and even an artist who will be making a documentary about our work.

As we move about the ship, there are several principle hives of activity. The Marine mapping activities are run out of the dry lab, where a wall of monitors gives us an overview of where we are, where we are going, and what the next day’s plan is. The conference room is a place to bring your laptop and have an impromptu discussion. The galley is where we meet three times a day to enjoy our meals. Along with many delicious sides and the main course, every meal includes kimchi and rice. And then, of course, there are the many science labs and the ship’s decks where our sediment cores, instruments, and probes are launched over the side of the vessel.

The activities that tend to generate the most excitement are the ROV and AUV deployments. Not only is it exciting to watch the equipment go over the side and collectively hold our breath as we wait for the start-up checklists to conclude—watching the data and sample collection in real time is fascinating. It’s standing room only in the ROV control center as people pile in to watch the ROV maneuver over never-before-seen sections of the seafloor.

The first ROV dive site was the subject of the recently published paper. This massive hole developed in the seafloor between 2010 and 2019. For the first time ever, we can visit this site to capture sediment samples that will help us confirm our hypothesis about how and why this massive hole developed.