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IODP Expedition 318:
Wilkes Land Glacial History
Week 2 Report (10-16 January 2010)
PDF file is available for download.
17 January 2010
During this second week of the Wilkes Land Expedition 318,
the vessel continued on a SSW course coming within 30 nautical miles of
Auckland Island the morning of 12 January. Once the vessel moved south of the
protection of Auckland Island, it was exposed to the open expanse of the
Southern Ocean and the powerful low-pressure systems that populate this region.
The vessel negotiated through intense winds and sea conditions from 12 January
until the morning of 15 January. Frequent course changes and reductions in
speed were made to avoid the most intense parts of a large and severe
low-pressure system that was crossing the projected ship track. Although the
vessel remained on the other edge of the system, the combined sea and swell
reached 40 feet and the winds were clocked as high as 60 knots. Vessel motion
ranged from moderate to heavy and on one occasion the ship experienced a 13°
The vessel began to ride more smoothly in improving sea
conditions by the afternoon of 15 January and was proceeding at nearly 10 knots
to Prospectus Site WLSHE-09B. During the evening, the first penguins were observed hinting that we
might be approaching ice-strewn waters. At 0345 hr on 16 January, the first
iceberg was spotted on radar at 9 nmi and then visually observed at 5 nmi
through the fog and mist as it passed on the port side. It was pinnacled and
rigged and estimated to be approximately 300 feet long and 50 feet high. There were also a few growlers in the vicinity. During the day, the
vessel speed had to be reduced when fog and mist reduced the visibility to less
than 1/8th nmi. At 0440 hr on the morning of 17 January, ship's radar picked up
a large iceberg at 17 nmi with a calculated closest point of approach of 7 nmi
By midnight on 16 January, the vessel had traveled 1505 nmi
at an average speed of 8.3 knots. The estimated time of arrival on site is
midmorning on 18 January. Satellite analysis of ice coverage in the region
indicates the area is mostly free of large icebergs and floes. The winds at our
first site are forecasted to pick up and peak at about 40 knots the evening of
18 January and then decrease; temperatures are expected to be around 0°C. The new long-range outlook through 22 January indicates good weather conditions on site.
Throughout the week, the drilling crew continued
preparations for drilling operations in the severe Antarctic weather
conditions. A wind wall was constructed around the drill floor, exposed piping
(heating, air, drain, and water) was insulated, electrical lines were run for
heaters in the mud pump room and behind the drawworks, and external space
heaters were tested.
During this second week of the Wilkes Land expedition we
continued discussing the expedition science background, preparing the
laboratories and refining methods, and providing orientation to the scientific
participants. A series of science talks were given covering various aspects of Antarctic
climate and ice sheet history based on previous Antarctic drilling. Meetings
covered education and outreach activities, ice/weather observation and
forecasting, co-chief scientist science presentation for drilling and USIO
staff, and expedition operations planning.
The curator provided training on core handling and sampling,
and scientists conducted core flow and data acquisition on practice cores. Core
Description and Paleontology groups worked with specialists to refine work flow
and data acquisition. Scientists are finalizing their shipboard methods and
shipboard sampling plans are being refined. The Operations Superintendent and
Coring Technicians gave scientists an introduction to drilling operations and
Technical Support and HSE Activities
The technical staff continued preparing the lab for coring.
Meetings were held to prepare for potential use of seismic sources. This
included a meeting with all operational staff to ensure all involved understand
procedures for proper implementation of seismic source use. A marine mammal
orientation was held for all technicians who will be standing marine mammal
watches during seismic and check shot activities.
A safety orientation regarding safe handling, spill response
and burn treatment for hydrofluoric acid was provided for all the scientists
and technical staff working in and around the chemistry lab. All safety showers
and eyewash stations were tested. A fire and boat drill was conducted that
included all scientists donning their survival suits.