June 4th 2010: Final message from the Chief Scientist Richard Lampitt

Richard Lampitt, Lead scientist on the cruise says:

We are now heading back to Southampton on the James Clark Ross and feeling that although there have been some technical problems and disappointments, the main objective, to deploy the mooring, has been achieved with great success. The newly designed observatory mooring was developed in collaboration with the UK Met Office using a large surface buoy complete with meteorological/atmospheric measurements. The large surface buoy makes the mooring much stronger and it marks the first time we have had a full set of meteorological observations at the same time as ocean observations. This will be of tremendous value in determining the factors which affect oceanographic processes and properties. As I write, I see the data already pouring into the data base and presented on the public web site. This is indeed a gratifying spectacle and I am optimistic that it will continue for many months and certainly until it is due for servicing in September.

The major failure of the cruise was of the benthic lander system BOBO which was due to send data from the seabed at 4840m (3 miles) to the surface by an acoustic link and from there to land via satellite. After deployment and receiving some data, it suddenly went silent. Shortly afterwards a so called drop-cam which was designed to float off from the lander 20 hours after deployment was spotted purely by chance by the ships bridge. It had suffered a massive shockwave and was barely able to float due to some leakage. This was the clincher and enabled us to deduce that one or all of the buoyancy spheres on BOBO had imploded, taking with it all the acoustic devices. This caused significant distress for all of us on board.

In addition to the success of the mooring, we also made some novel and important measurements on waves and some incubation experiments on calcification rates of coccolithophores. In this case, the results can not be confirmed for a while but so far are very promising.

The presence of a team of photographers was a great bonus and we are looking forward to seeing the results.

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