Tags: Carol Cotterill

QA – history of the area

We had a question come through from Birdie about the geology we are seeing up here, and so I thought I’d write a little about the history of the area, and in the process try to answer Birdie’s question! So here goes with the rocks……
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Busy, busy

Sorry I haven’t been blogging for a couple of days, but events and activities got the better of me! I was convinced we were on Wednesday today and was shocked that it is actually Friday! Somehow the Arctic induces a complete loss of any realisation of time, date and day.

Ice cave at Sermeq Avangnardleq. Photo: Carol Cotterill

On Tuesday evening (30th September) we ran a profile past the mouth of the Torssukatak fjord, into which two large glaciers feed, and up into the Suvdlorssuaq passage which runs between Disko Island and the Nugssuaq Peninsula. We have clearly imaged what I think are the lateral moraines for an old ice stream, standing proud of the seabed. There are also multiple channel incisions with sediment infilling.
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Deploying the Sparker

Carol Cotterill and Dave Smith deploy the sparker, which uses acoustic pulses to image the sea bed and sediments below the sea bed. Video: Matt Wainwright.

QA – the second answer

Olga’s question

Will you comment on this survey? It were interesting. And what’s about the Grigoriy Mikheev. Is it a Russian vessel?

Carol Cotterill’s response

Dear Olga,
Firstly I’m so glad you’re reading the blogs on the Cape Farewell website! So in answer to your questions – yes the Grigory Mikheev is a Russian ship. She used to be a Russian research vessel and has now been converted to accommodate tourists. The crew are Russian, and the staff looking after us onboard are multi-national – Russian, English, Austrian and Belgian.
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Sparker unit deployed by the British Geological Survey team

Sparker unit deployed by Carol Cotterill and Dave Smith, the British Geological Survey team, to image the sea-bed using seismic technology.

Jakobshavn Isbrae

The day started with a walk to the viewpoint for the Jakobshavn Isbrae ice fjord – approximately 15km of the largest icebergs I have ever seen, grounded against a terminal moraine complex. Frustratingly the weather closed in and it started snowing with a vengeance. Whilst it looked lovely, the snow storm and accompanying gloom masked the iceberg calving events that were tantalisingly audible through the murk!
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Ilulissat Kangia

Ilulissat Kangia (Jacobshavn Glacier)
Ilulissat Kangia (Danish name Jacobshavn Glacier)
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The Disko Bay Blues Band (with special guests)

The Icebergs, Carol Cotterill and Emily Venabless backing KT Tunstall at Murphy's Bar, Ilulissat
KT Tunstall backed by ‘The Icebergs’ (scientists Carol Cotterill and Emily Venables) and local band The Disko Bay Blues at Murphy’s Bar, Ilulissat. Photo: Nathan Gallagher

Excuse the spelleng mistakes, the grammatical errors and the mistaken cultural references, but this blog comes after only 6 hours sleep total in two nights (holding a satellite phone outside, pointing at the sky in the snowing Arctic is certainly a new experience for 3am internet roaming). This alongside the introduction to the most dramatic landscape on earth can only lead to a brain that somewhat resembles the broken ice floating through the sea.

David Noble and 'Murphy' locals.
David Noble and ‘Murphy’ locals. Photo: Nathan Gallagher
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Photo by Nathan Gallagher

Success! We started the day with a sail up to the Jakobshavn Isbrae ice field, created by the grounding of icebergs from the glacier against a recessional moraine.

The glacier itself “flows” approximately 38m per day. However it only calves every 2 – 3 weeks according to local knowledge. This combination – fast flow rates and long periods between calving events results in very large bergs being discharged – see some of the attached photos!
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Dr Carol Cotterill reviews the charts and prepares a marine geophysical survey line plan

Frustration reigns amongst the scientific staff at the moment. Initial problems with the triggering of the source were sorted yesterday afternoon. However we then discovered that the ship is a very noisy one acoustically speaking! Whilst the equipment was behaving perfectly, any return signal was being masked by the ship’s engines. Various options were discussed and tried, in liaison with the ship’s captain and crew, but at 11pm local time we decided to call it a night and start again in the morning.
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Surveying the seabed

The BGS experience difficulty surveying the seabed. Carol Cotterill describes how this feels. Audio by Vicky Long.

Danger, Danger: High Voltage

Carol explains the kit she’ll be using during the voyage – the sparker unit – which uses acoustic pulses to image the sea bed and sediments below the sea bed. The ship’s acoustics leads to some initial frustration, followed by success!