On every shift, there are people responsible for these tasks. Meet some of the night shift team, from right to left: Andrea, Michael, Thorsten, Nadine, Patrizia, Bo, Outi (with Barry’s helmet just visible behind her), Annette, Mary and Caroline (that's me).
If you want to read the history of the Baltic Sea from the composition of a sediment core you need to know its age. We’ll date the cores with a wide range of instruments on shore and hope to have samples that capture the last 130 thousand years.
But, we’re also trying to get a first idea of the age now. That’s why specialists in micropaleontology and sedimentology look at small samples from every 3 m of core directly. They touch, taste, sieve and wash the samples and study them microscopically in their search for tell tale signs of environmental change.
Low salinity pore waters can be indicative of former lake sediments. This is why pore water salinity is one of the first things the geochemists on board measure.
We also get a lot of information on sediment composition from the geophysical measurements done on whole core sections.
Our second site is close to the island of Anholt in the Kattegat providing us with new views from the ship. This implies that we see less land and more waves. Sunrise is still equally beautiful.
The waves don’t really affect our work much because the ship is very stable and is kept at our sampling location with decimeter accuracy. For more details on how this is done and what else the crew and operations staff are doing to make this expedition run as smoothly as possible, read Carol’s entry in the expedition logbook at:
We’re now drilling beyond 80 meters depth and the cores are steadily coming in. The samples include clays from which it is sometimes difficult to extract sufficient pore water for analysis. We cherish every drop we can get and in such cases usually still can measure some basic parameters such as salinity and pH.
Our sampling in Danish coastal waters has attracted quite some media attention and we’ve had various Danish journalists visiting or passing the ship over the past few days. We’ve also had a small boat bring extra drinking water and other supplies and some of the microbiological samples have been taken to a laboratory on land. The boats range in size from speedboats to quite impressive small ships.
Mostly, the journalists are interested in talking to our co-chief scientist Bo about the microbiological research during the expedition.
All work in the Little Belt has been completed. This first station was a success and we all treasure our samples, how ever small.
We are now in transit to our next site in the Kattegat. We hope to start sampling at our second site, BSB1, early this morning.
While we started with sampling mud only, we are also meeting glacial deposits that consist of gravel, sand and stiff clays that are more difficult to core. These sometimes require types of equipment, that do not allow samples to be obtained.
Carol, the ECORD expedition manager, and our chief scientists give us regular updates on progress, so that we are always ready when our samples arrive.
We’re not very far from land and can see the shore nearby. The weather so far has been great. Although we have an occasional rain shower, with sudden wind and waves, the sea is calm most of the time.
The advantage of being on the nightshift is that you can see the sun rise, and can even enjoy the early afternoon on deck when it is sunny.
And if you can’t sleep, you can see the sun go down again as well.
Our first station is located in the "Little Belt" near the Danish coast. On Friday evening, the first core came on deck. Since then we have been very busy processing more than 70 meters of sediment core. Working on the smelly (hydrogen sulfide), gassy (methane bubbles), greenish-brown mud is a pleasure!
Although the sediment cores that we took so far are not sampled in detail (there is no time for that now), we do drill small holes in the core liner to extract the porewater. Also, a small part of the sediment from each core end is studied visually by sedimentologists and micropaleontologists. Combined with results of geophysical measurements, we already have an idea of the environment of deposition of the sediment.
With the rest of the "nightshift" team, I'm gradually getting used to working from midnight to noon. There is not much time to do more than work, eat and sleep. Because we're all on different schedules, hot meals are served every 6 hours. So you can eat hot curry or pizza for breakfast!
We are finally on board the ship! Greatship Manisha arrived in Kiel Wednesday night and we were allowed on board early the next morning. The ship is a 3-year old drill-ship from a commercial contractor that has been modified for this expedition. On board we got a quick tour, including safety instructions. More pictures will follow when the internet here allows it!
The scienceteam works in labs in containers on the back deck of the ship.This part of the ship is the "Science garden" - with some real plants! I will mostly be working in the Geochemistry container with Thorsten, Jeanine, Dalton, Luzie and Patrizia. We'll be analyzing salinity, sulfide, ammonium, alkalinity and methane in porewater. We will get the porewater samples from the "curation container" where the water is either squeezed or sucked out of the sediment cores. We're also responsible for subsampling the porewaters and storage for later analysis on land.
Our living quarters are located at the front of the ship. There are 66 people on board & we have 4 meals a day. The drill-deck is in the middle of the ship, but that area is off-bounds for most of the science team for safety reasons. We've all got brand new red overalls and hardhats to wear when working. We're at the location of our first site now and hope to get our first sediment samples soon.
Hi, I’m Caroline Slomp. I’m a geochemist from Utrecht University, the Netherlands. I study the chemistry of the seafloor in areas where the seawater is low in oxygen, such as the present-day Baltic Sea. I have a specific interest in understanding the history of low oxygen in seawater and identifying the causes. Low oxygen is a problem for fish and other higher organisms living near the seafloor. If we know what factors cause low oxygen in seawater, it is easier to design measures to improve the situation.
I will soon be joining a cruise of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme (IODP). We’re going to study the history of the Baltic Sea. We’re sailing with the Greatship Manisha from Kiel and will be at sea for 60 days. One of our major targets is to obtain sediments from a previous warm period (“Eemian”) ca. 130.000 years ago, when the Baltic Sea was likely also low in oxygen. This will be the first time these sediments will be cored!
On board, we’ll be working in 12-hour shifts so that the collection and processing of sediment samples can continue 24 hours a day. The European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) is responsible for all practical procedures. We have a small but very motivated team of 17 scientists on board ship, led by two co-chiefs, Bo Barker Jorgensen and Thomas Andren, to process the samples and interpret preliminary results. We are ready to go!
For more information about the cruise, see the expedition webpage: