January 22, the research vessel Akademik Treshnikov left the Australian port of Hobart. The second phase of the International Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE), held in the framework of the 62th season of the Russian Antarctic expedition (RAE), started. The international team of scientists conducting research for 22 scientific projects are working onboard the Akademik Treshnikov. Seven of them are landing on the Islands along the route of the expedition ACE. There will be held paleogeographic, glaciological studies, biodiversity, sampling of sediments, water, air and ice for analysis in laboratories. Russia in these works is presented by the research project "Evolution of Ecosystems of the Subantarctic Islands and Their Current Status".
During the second stage of the expedition the ACE research will be conducted in the area covered by the Antarctic Treaty and the Protocol on environmental protection to him, i.e., to the South of the 60°S. The permission of Roshydromet on implementation of activities in the Antarctic, according to the established in the Russian Federation procedure, was received for scientific research on the Islands located in the area. This permit is based on the assessment of the impact on the environment in conducting research during the ACE expedition.
In the second phase of ACE Baleni, Scott, Peter and Diego Ramirez Islands will be visited, and research in the area lead the Mertz glacier will be carried out. These areas, with the exception of Diego Ramirez island, are situated in the area of the Antarctic Treaty. It was planned to carry out a landing on subantarctic island of Macquarie, but, unfortunately, the Australian authorities had not issued the necessary permits, although the scientists of this state actively take part in this expedition.
At the moment the expedition performs the operations in the area of the Mertz glacier, where the ship came on 29 January and was fixed at the edge of the glacier. The specialists began to carry out the work using deep-sea operated vehicle "Ropos" and drilling with coring of the ice in the Mertz glacier. During 29-30 January, there were two descent of the deep-water apparatus "Ropos" at depths of about 1100 m (right at the edge of the glacier) and 900 m (within 1 km from the edge of the glacier). During them continuous shooting of the water column and the seafloor, sampling of water, soil, benthic flora and fauna were carried out.
On 29 January the group of scientists was taken by helicopter to the ice sheet at the base of the Mertz glacier tongue, where they completed drilling and extracted snow-ice cores to up a depth of 20 m. On January 30 the members of the expedition, including two Russian researchers, were taken by two helicopters to Cape Denison. Unfortunately, the sharply increased wind demanded the immediate return of the group on the ship. So, the geomorphological and paleogeographic work of Russian specialists was limited to 15-20 minutes. Further research in the area of the Mertz glacier is scheduled until 2 of February, and includes (if weather conditions are reasonable for the work):
- using of underwater vehicle "Ropos";
- implementation of additional sounding on submeridional and sublatitudinal profiles.
After execution of the works in the area of Mertz glacier the Akademik Treshnikov will be heading to Balleny island, where it will continue work on the ACE program. The second stage of the expedition will last until February 22, when the Akademik Treshnikov will arrive at the Chilean port of Punta Arenas.
Descent of the apparatus "Ropos" at the edge of the Mertz glacier
The frame of the video broadcast machine "Ropos" when working on the bottom in the area of the outlet of the Mertz glacier
January 31, 2017.