Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday 19 February, Day 36

Long silence: not much to report as the geological survey of the South Sandwich Islands was progressing, and I was working hard on another paper! Nothing like being isolated at sea from everyday life tribulations, with meals prepared for you, to write those papers I have kept in the back of my head but never found the time to write yet. This one is about a new derivation of the Coriolis force (the force that makes all things moving on a rotating body drift sideways, and playing a central role in the atmospheric and oceanic movements), which sheds light on the fact that there are two slightly different contributions to it, and helps explain some counter-intuitive results in the dynamics of inertial waves (wind-generated currents that turn in circles because of the rotation of the Earth).

But I still found time to take some pictures.
Let's start with the volcano theme:

Saunders Island in the sunset, with steam rising from Mount Michael.

Montagu Island, with steam rising from Mount Belinda (hugging the crest, but hard to distinguish from clouds).

Steam rising from Bellingshausen Island caldera, the smallest of the three islands composing the Southern Thule island group. The largest of this group is Cook Island:

Now, a bit of history (source: Wikipedia):
From 1976 to 1982, Argentina maintained a naval base named Corbeta Uruguay, in the lee (southern east coast) of Thule Island (the third of the Southern Thule group). Although the British discovered the presence of the Argentine base in 1978, protested and tried to resolve the issue by diplomatic means, no effort was made to remove them by force until after the Falklands War. The base was eventually removed on June 20, 1982. Here are some remains:

And to finish, another round of iceberg shots (I can't get bored of them, they come in so many different shapes and colors!):

At last, the geological survey of the South Sandwich Islands has come to an end, and we are heading South again! In three days, we should arrive at the SASSI mooring sites, for a frantic 48 hours or so of uninterrupted work! I hope we will be able to recover all moorings... I forgot to mention that John (last year's McGuiver who made a cable from scratch to connect to an instrument) has developed in the past few days a horrible toothache, and is not in very good shape. I hope he is going to get better, otherwise the mooring recovery is going to be like hell for him!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday 8 February, Day 25

I did not had anything to report this past week, mostly open water cruising over the Protector Shoal, a submarine volcano that our geologists studied in details, and heavy fog when we were close to Zavodovski Island, the northernmost island of the South Sandwich island chain. By the way, these islands were named by Captain James Cook, when he discovered them in 1775, after the 4th Earl of Sandwich, 1st Lord of the Admiralty. The word "South" was later added to distinguish them from the Sandwich Islands, now known as Hawaii, which were also "discovered", more than a thousand years after Polynesians discovered them, by James Cook in 1778, who also named them Sandwich Islands (lack of imagination?).

So, during this eventless part of the cruise, I worked hard on my paper reporting last year cruise's SASSI observations, which I have just finished yesterday! Now I deserve a bit of rest, and I can take some time to put some pictures here.

Back to the dredging operations, here is the dredge being deployed.

Then, after having let it rake the ocean floor for some time, it is brought back on deck, and Simon and Phil (the chief scientist) sort their treasure!

In the meantime, chinstrap penguins are playing in the water all around the ship. Actually, the waters around the South Sandwich Islands are full of chinstrap penguins everywhere, it is amazing!

At last, yesterday, the clouds disappeared to let the sun shine. Penguins are enjoying a sun bath on top of a large iceberg (can you spot the tiny black dots on top of the iceberg?).

And I am enjoying the sun on top of the ship (on the Monkey Island!).

The sun finally set as we were approaching Montagu Island.

Montagu Island houses an active volcano, Mount Belinda, which was last seen erupting 2 years ago. Ashes are still visible on the low level slopes of the glaciers that cover it.

Why have they not been covered up by snow, as on the higher slopes? Maybe because the glacier is so crevassed as it approaches the sea, that snowfall cannot stay on the crevasses crests...

To finish today's post, a few specimens of the nice icebergs that surround us: