02-05-11 Research Vessel James Cook
Arrived in the Kilbrannan Sound yesterday and has been off Carradale today.

Click HERE for info on the ship.I shall enquire as to what she was doing over the three day period in the area.

Thanks to Martin Mears for photo.

[The Carradale Goat]
Update on ships movements around our waters and further afield from Martin.

Dear Mr Mears,

In response to your telephone query this morning I have found some information for you about what the RRS James Cook was doing at the Mull of Kintyre recently when you were able to take photos of her in action.

Between the 21st April and the 4th May the principal scientist was Dr Joana Gafeira from the British Geological Survey and she was doing the work on behalf of Dr Alan Stevenson from the British Geological Survey who devised the actual research programme. The work being undertaken was on marine geology. Here is a brief summary (in rather scientific language I'm afraid!) about what the research was:

South-west Scottish ice-streams - Shallow sampling the SW Hebridean region
Our understanding of the continental shelf flow signature and subsequent deglacial footprint associated with the last British/Irish Ice Sheet has been aided, in recent years, by high-quality remote sensing datasets, such as multibeam swath bathymetry. In combination with the BGS legacy seismic reflection dataset we are establishing a position whereby we are able to provide an increasingly powerful set of empirical observations in order to test and refine established numerically driven ice sheet models. However, whilst we are better able to reconstruct the glacial geomorphology of the former extent and configuration of the British/Irish Ice Sheet, we retain a dearth of chronological information that precludes a definitive age assessment for the timing of expansion and subsequent retreat of the ice sheet.
The primary objective of this cruise is to target key stratigraphic sites along the known ice-sheet flow lines in the SW Hebrides region - an area where several palaeo-ice streams are known to have coalesced - in order to address the key issue of chronology. The proposed area of study is illustrated in the attached figure, and focuses on the southern Hebrides Shelf incorporating the Sea of the Hebrides/Malin Sea/North Channel region, but extending landwards into several of the sea lochs, including those of the Knoydart/Moidart region, Loch Linnhe, and the Argyll/Firth of Clyde region.
In order to achieve our cruise objective, we will design a series of sampling corridors that follow the flow lines of the former ice margins as they decayed back into the glaciated hinterland of northern Ireland, and central and southwestern Scotland. It is our intention to fully integrate the offshore results with the adjacent terrestrial information to produce a linked model of deglaciation, and establish, for the first time, a chronology of events from the onset of ice sheet collapse to the ultimate demise of individual outlet glaciers.
It is also intended to sample previously unknown morphological elements preserved on the sea bed, as identified from our new work on multibeam swath bathymetry in this region, in a bid to better define the nature of the former glacial landsystem, and the evolving marine landscape since the ice disappeared.

Essentially they were taking soundings and measurements along the sea floor to better understand how the glacial ice sheet retreated and get timings for how this happened. We call these research activities 'cruises' - but having heard how hard everyone on the ships work its certainly not a cruise in that sense!

Click on highlighted text to open.

The charts of all our ships activities can be seen at PROGRAMME CHART 2011 and through this you can select the dates of the work and find out who the lead scientist is and what their work is. So here DISPLAY PROFILE you can see more details of what the cruise was doing and can access reports of the cruise, the work they actually did (the weather does not always play fair!) and other interesting information like that.

I hope this satisfies your curiosity about what she was doing in the area - she's a very busy ship and it is quite incredible to see the amount of planning and logistics that go on to get all the researchers and research equipment into the right places for embarkation all over the world. Thanks very much for your query as it has made me find out more information about our ships and the work they do which is incredibly interesting. Here is a link to a clip of her being unloaded (speeded up) at the docks at Southampton after one of her cruises - this is not the best video of this I have ever seen but gives an idea just how much equipment she carries - YOU TUBE VIDEO

Kind regards,
Poppy Leeder

External Communications Manager

Natural Environment Research Council

Environmental research news, features, podcasts, blogs

PLANET EARTH







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