Endurance

Hard weeks at sea, but also breathtaking moments. Explore how the scientists and the crew of "Polarstern" work on board and follow the dive robot MARUM QUEST to the seafloor.

By Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Draw the Curtain! (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

It is icy cold, but we are happy to send our dive robot into Antarctic waters for the first time, going several thousand meters deep to the seabed. Everything is in position.

Tension (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Our mission to the seafloor begins.

The decks crew and the ROV team send the remotely operated vehicle safely on its journey to the seafloor. What will we discover?

Black and White Smoker (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

TEMPERATURES UP TO 344° CELSIUS

At depths of several thousand meters, we discover active hydrothermal fields and investigate the "black smokers".

In 2 to 3 kilometers of crust depth are magma chambers, from which magma can readily ascend into the seafloor spreading area and flow out to the seabed. At the same time, cold seawater penetrates the cracks and fissures of the igneous rocks, heats up, and rises again as a hot fluid.

The hot fluid is extremely corrosive and dissolves numerous elements from the rocks, including metals that, when contacting the cold seawater, lead to mineral precipitates, which we perceive as black smoke. We measure temperatures of up to 344° Celsius.

Magic Moment (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

After several hours in the deep sea, our robot reappears behind "Polarstern". It will be a long night for the scientists. All the samples we have collected on the seafloor now have to be processed in the laboratories. The next morning, an iceberg welcomes us.

"Polarstern" in front of an iceberg (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Map of Southsandwich Islands (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Have a look at our map

A bathymetric map of our research area, for better orientation: The uninhabited South Sandwich Islands are aligned in an east-facing arc along the South Sandwich Subduction Zone and a deep-sea trench. In the northern area, the trench has a water depth of 8,264 meters. The northern volcanic islands, with Russian names, were discovered by Admiral Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen; James Cook discovered the southern ones, and gave them British names. Behind the islands, new seabed is constantly being created in the back-arc along the East Scotia Ridge. After exploring this area with our ROV, we make our way to approach Saunders Island.

Saunders Island (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Saunders Island offers a breathtaking panorama.

Zodiac ready (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Our volcanologists are planning a visit to the island. They want to take samples and survey the active volcano Mount Michael with drones. The dinghy is ready. Will the landing be successful?

Slowly, we approach the volcano . . .

Active vulcanoe on Saunders Island (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

. . . which shows us its strength, and smokes exactly as a volcano should.

Active vulcanoe Mount Michael on Saunders Island (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Mount Michael volcano on Saunders Island in action.

Saunders Island (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Even if the weather looks nice, the strong wind thwarts a landing with the dinghies on the volcanic island. However, we steer the ship in close circles around Saunders Island, and our volcanologists launch their drones from "Polarstern" to gather data.

ROV-Team (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Still in a good mood.

Deckscrew of "Polarstern" (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Always focused.

The Expedition-Team (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

After almost seven stormy weeks at sea: We are done, but happy. We were able to map 6,700 nautical miles with the echo sounder systems. This is an invaluable record that needs to be worked up when ashore. Despite winds up to Beaufort force 12, we were able to send the ROV on a mission to the seafloor seven times. We have successfully conducted 20 gravity cores, 3 piston cores, 18 CTD deployments, 13 multi-corer samples and 10 OFOBS profiles.

Work on Deck (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Hard work has been done on deck.

Work at Sea (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Tirelessly, we deploy the devices.

Work in the Lab (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

In the lab, we worked through the nights.

Work at Sea (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Tinkered again and again to get the best results.

Preparationfor the deployment of the Gravity Corer (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

In icy temperatures . . .

Falko Möller in the winch control room (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

. . . and in the worst storms.

Stormy Snow during the Polarstern-Expedtion PS 119 (2019/2019)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

“We must always remember with gratitude and admiration the first sailors who steered their vessels through storms and mists, and increased our knowledge of the land of ice in the South.”

Roald Amundsen (1872–1928)

Credits: Story

UNDERWATER FOOTAGE: MARUM-QUEST 4000, MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, www.marum.de

DRONE: MARUM-QUEST-Team, Volker Ratmeyer

MAPS AND ANIMATION: Paul Wintersteller MARUM University of Bremen (Bathymetrischer Datensatz: BAS, AWI, MARUM, GEBCO)

VIDEO: Christopher von Deylen und Holger von Neuhoff

PHOTOGRAPHY: Holger von Neuhoff

TEXT: Stephanie von Neuhoff


PS 119 – PARTICIPATING INSTITUTIONS:

AWI – Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

BAS – British Antarctic Survey

Ce-Nak – Centrum für Naturkunde, Universität Hamburg

CEOAS – College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University

DWD – Deutscher Wetterdienst

GeoB – Department of Geoscience, University of Bremen

HeliService – Heli Service International GmbH

IGG-UG – Institut für Geography und Geologie der Universität Greifswald

IPGP – Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris Sorbonne Paris Cité, Observatoire Volcanologique du Piton de la Fournaise

MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen

MPI – Max-Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology

NOCS – National Oceanography Center Southampton

OkState – Boone Pickens School of Geology, Oklahoma State University

QUB-QML – Queen’s University Belfast Marine Laboratory

SEE-UL – School of Earth and Environment, Leeds University

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Google apps