Date: Monday 5 Febrary 2007
Position: 34’S, 68o 08’W Rothera Base, Antarctica
"Today our cruise ends. We arrived at Rothera base again at breakfast this morning and disembarked shortly after. Some of the team start heading back to the UK via Chile today whilst the rest of us have another day to enjoy the sights of the Antarctic before we catch a flight tomorrow.
It is probably a good time to review the cruise as a whole. At the outset the aims of this cruise were threefold:
1) to investigate at high resolution the geological features associated with the advance and retreat of glaciers and to investigate the physical evidence for pressurized melt water channels at the bottom of glaciers during the last glacial maximum.
An insight into the interface between glaciers and the ground on which they lie is essential to improve current models and predictions of the speed at which glaciers might advance and retreat in the future in response to the changing climate. The deep sea is an extremely good environment in which to study these features as, being submerged underwater, they have not been subjected to erosion and weathering in the atmosphere since they were formed. It is important that data of this nature are gathered from both poles as it is now known that each pole has responded differently, and at different rates, to cycles of global warming and cooling.
2) to investigate the biology of the Marguerite Bay region of the Antarctic Continent, an area which has been poorly studied in the past, and to investigate patchiness in the deep sea and the effects of glaciation on the seabed communities.
From a purely scientific point of view it is interesting to determine the nature of the biological community which lies in the deep sea to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula and to be able to compare this with other communities around the Antarctic Continent. In addition, with this new data, we will be better able to predict how the deep sea, south of the Antarctic Circle, might respond to the retreat of sea ice shelves and glaciers in future years.
3) to use the UK deep-water ROV Isis for the first time in support of science.
The Isis ROV has been developed as a UK facility for deep water scientific research. As I have mentioned, this cruise is the first time that Isis has been used in anger to carry out scientific research and one of the first times that a deep-water ROV has been used in the Antarctic. As such, this cruise has provided an excellent training period for both the ROV team and the scientists during which we have all developed a better understanding of what is involved and what our future expectations of ROV-based science should be. Without doubt Isis is an excellent facility and a huge asset to the marine scientific community and, on the basis of what we have achieved this 17 days, there is every expectation that Isis will serve the community well.
Looking back on our time here, and even though much of the data and analysis has still to be done, it is clear that we have succeeded in all of the three cruise aims and that is in no small part due to the efforts of Peter Mason and his ROV team and Captain Chapman and the officers and crew of the RRS James Clark Ross. We have all been very privileged to come and view the sights of the Antarctic and no doubt will carry memories of this cruise for years to come..."