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Crossing the Antarctic Circle

Temperature 3°C, wind 5 kts, 1 meter swells

Position: 66º 33’ 39’’S, 136º 59’E
Water Depth: 1000 meters
Exact Location: The Antarctic Circle

ABOARD THE JOIDES RESOLUTION, OFF THE COAST OF WILKES LAND, ANTARCTICA– Yes, we crossed the Antarctic Circle today! It is perhaps only the 3rd time this ship has ever done so. All points south of the Antarctic Circle experience at least one day every year of total darkness and likewise one day every year when the sun never completely sets. We are now in early February so the sun does set but only for 4 hours and it never gets really dark. As a member of the night shift out here, I love this…I get up at 11PM, come on shift at midnight. The sun sets around 1 AM and rises again around 5 AM. I get to see both and when the weather is good, the colors are spectacular.

Moon set behind our drilling derrick.

Dawn at 0330 in the AM.

We are now working at one of our shallow continental shelf sites, called U1358. We just finished the major site for which I am the lead scientist. This site was cored very successfully. The water is a 1000 meters deep and the spot we cored is like a big dish at the seafloor, with lots of small sediment particles drifting into it.

Here you can see the annual layers in the sediment cores we collected.

The sediments accumulate at a rate of 2 cm every year and leave an annual layer – a summer deposit made up of microscopic plants and a winter layer made up of dust and silts carried by the wind and the ice. We can see each layer and each layer represents one year. It looks as though we can count these layers back over 10,000 years. The record may not be perfectly continuous, we don’t know yet, but we do know that we have 470 meters of layered mud to work on and that it will tell how the sea ice and temperature of Antarctic surface and deep waters has changed on a year-to-year basis for many thousands of years…..

The core sampling table where this bag holds the last of more than 2300 samples taken from one Hole.

We save EVERYTHING There are more boxes on this ship than you would believe.

Everyone on board worked long hours to get this site completed, many for 18 to 20 hours each day. So, when we have a transit day to another site we get to rest, but we also have a chance to cross the Antarctic Circle. Everyone is excited and a bit relaxed, both at the same time! The weather is sunny and warm today but tonight we expect a big storm to begin, one with winds gusting to over 60 kts and waves as high as 25 feet. It might last 2 to 3 days, a problem for us as it is difficult to work in such stormy conditions. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

This is mainly the night shift at the bow of the Joides Resolution as we cross the Antarctic Circle.

Your correspondents Rob and Christina on the Antarctic Circle.
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4 Responses »

  1. Loved the pictures.Can’t wait to hear more!

  2. I hate to be a pedant but the circle is 180 nm south of that position.

  3. Yes, Hank is correct. There is a typo in this posting. The correct position for the ship that was:

    66º 33’ 39’’S, 136º 59’E

  4. Fixed. Thanks for catching that.