Seeing as the topic of the week is scientific cruises, here’s a few images from a cruise I participated in back in Feb ’13. It’s just a little flavour of what living on a research vessel is like.
The cruise was part of the INFOMAR programme whose task is integrated sea bed mapping of the Irish continental margin. More information can be found here. The vessel was the Irish research ship The Celtic Explorer, operated by the Marine Institute. It’s a 65 m ship and can berth up to 20 scientists and 11 crew members for up to 31 consecutive days.
The cruise had a number of aims; increased resolution seabed mapping using multibeam bathymetry was one aspect of the cruise which took place at night. Daytime activities were dedicated to sediment coring, drop-camera work and shallow seismics
Here are a few of the tasks underway
Living conditions on the ship are surprisingly comfortable, as long as you can get used to the constant pitching and heaving of the ship. The food is also good (a man can gain a fair amount of weight on a scientific cruise!)
Working conditions are also comfortable (depending on the task at hand!). Bathymetry work was mostly carried out at night, meaning some of us were on duty from 8pm to 8am, then up all day to help with daytime activities. Only a few hours of sleep in a 24-hour period is not uncommon on research cruises, given how much they cost and how little time there is to collect data.
All in all, cruises are one of the most exciting aspects of oceanographic research. It puts one right at the forefront of the science. July of this year will entirely occupied by an Arctic cruise for me and Millie and our colleagues, which will take us to nearly 80 degrees North in the Atlantic Ocean, well inside the Arctic circle. The cruise will involve a huge sediment coring effort to help understand how the frequency of large sediment failures might change in response to climate change in Atlantic and Arctic basins, and what effect this might have on the UK coastline in the form of landslide-generated tsunamis.