CD 157: Investigating the submarine canyons offshore Portugal


Daily diary

Friday 11th June 2004

Elena writes...

We just have a few days left on the cruise and I’m starting to think what it will be like to get back into my normal routine. I’m really looking forward to going home but at the same time I’ll miss life on board. My sleeping pattern here is very different to my normal one; I’ll have to get used to waking up at 6.00 rather than going to sleep at this time. I’ll certainly miss the people; my conversations about the Basque country with Sara, Tiago’s knowledge of everything, Ruth’s sense of humour…

We’re on our last night duty today and just to finish full on, we’ve had quite a few problems. First, one of the cores got jammed in the barrel, there was no way of taking it out. It took a team of six people three hours to extract only part of it. But the fun wasn’t over! a few hours later we took out the next core and this is what the barrel looked like. Rhys quickly got to work and cut the damaged part off.

The damaged core

Rhys at work

These problems continue to support the scientists prediction that the Nazare canyon is active or has recently been active. The Setubal canyon, however is inactive at present. One of the theories to explain this is that the Nazare canyon doesn’t transport sediments directly form a river but the Setubal canyon does. At the moment we’re in a warm period and the sea level is approximately 140metres higher than during glacier time. In glaciated times, the rivers flow further down the continental slope and carry the sediments further. In warm periods they don’t travel that far so the sediments don’t go that far down either (it’s actually not that simple but it gives you an idea).

All the work we’ve done during this cruise helps scientists get a clearer understanding of the geology of the canyons. They have a better idea of the events that took place in the past and this will help them to make more informed predictions about the events that may happen in the future.

The coring is almost finished. Tomorrow we will pack the equipment away and clear the labs up. No…. I don’t want it to finish.

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October 2003
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