2012 Expedition to Antarctica

Wednesday, April 18

Natalie Elking '12

April 15th was the official last day of science aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer, with the successful retrieval of a jumbo piston core from the Perseverance Drift as our final operation. Once the piston core was secure on board, we continued north through the Antarctic Sound and into the Bransfield Strait. To the surprise of many on board, the Bransfield was covered with thick ice, slowing progress dramatically. This time after science operations and before the rough open waters of the Drake Passage was utilized for lab cleanup and sample organization. The last days in the ice were filled with securing objects both inside the ship and out on deck in preparation for the potentially bumpy ride through the Drake Passage. We continued to collect underway data until we reached the 200-mile limit off the coast of South America. As we near the Straits of Lemaire, and Tierra del Fuego is in sight just to the north, the Drake is rougher than our trip down, but by no means intolerable. Seasickness has not been as prominent as expected, but the rocking makes moving around the ship a bit of an exertion. As we near port in Punta Arenas, samples are continually being organized and prepared for offloading. Once in Punta Arenas, many of the students will stay for an extra day to help with the final cleanup and sample export.

All are excited for the samples and data recovered during this Larissa NBP12-03 cruise. This was a successful cruise in regards to the Larsen Ice Shelf System, especially the Larsen A. Despite occasional unfavorable ice conditions of the region, we were able to recover interesting cores, most notably our final jumbo kasten core with multiple ikaite crystals and our two long jumbo piston cores. All of our samples, in the form of megacores, kasten cores and jumbo piston cores, will grant further insight to the marine geological processes of the Larsen Ice Shelf System from the recent past to modern times. Working with such a skilled and good-natured group has made this cruise the learning experience of a lifetime. We would like to give a final thanks to the principal investigators who organized and ran this cruise with such expertise.