RV Belgica DynaMOD II

After two years of non-activity at sea… we’re back! Moreover, this time we are finally using the brand new RV Belgica. You can check out more information about it on its BELSPO website. From Tuesday 2 August 2022 until Thursday 18 August 2022, we will be carrying out investigations along the eastern slope of the Porcupine Seabight, roughly a 100 km offshore Ireland. First, we will focus on the Belgica mound province, after which we will zoom in on some parts of the Gollum channels system. The shipboard scientific team consists out of 18 scientists, technicians and students from Ghent University (RCMG, Dept. of Geology), Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), Ulster University (GES), Liège University (ULiège) and the Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL-Drifters).

This project will focus on the increase of bottom current intensity in the presence of a seabed with a complex topography along the eastern slope of the Porcupine Seabight, within the Belgica Mound Province and the Gollum Channel System. Firstly, the new EM304 multibeam will be used over and between the study areas in order to obtain either a new coverage with a higher resolution or to fill in the gaps in the previously acquired bathymetric data. Secondly, additional high resolution seismic lines (single-channel sparker reflection seismic and TOPAS PS18) will be acquired to increase the resolution within and between study areas, as well as to better link the existing seismic network to IODP hole U1318. Prior to the acquisition of the seismic data, MMO (marine mammal observations) will be carried out (with respect to the Irish Underwater Sound Guidance), as well as using the µPAM (passive acoustic monitoring) provided by VLIZ. Thirdly, near-seabed geophysical (MBES, SSS, SBP) and visual observations will be carried out on selected sites using the VLIZ AUV Barabas. Finally, boxcores, gravity cores, piston cores and CTD casts will be taken to study both the short- and long-term spatial and temporal variability of the local sedimentary and oceanographic processes.

This survey will be carried out within the framework of the FWO DynaMOD project (an oceanographic and sediment DYNamic MODelling study of MOunded contourite Drifts; 2019-2022), as well as for the FWO fundamental PhD fellowship of Lotte Verweirder. It will also acquire “ahead” data for the applied FWO “SHMEAGOL” project (2023-2026).

During this survey (named Belgica 2022-18 “DynaMOD 2”), we have invited all participants to write a short blog entry every day, to give their view and duties on this “mission”. You are most welcome to join us in this adventure. If all goes well, the first blog will be featured on Thursday 4th. Additionally you may actually “track” us and enjoy the view from the bridge through the RBINS OD Nature RV Belgica website. A selection of “pics of the day” will be posted through the “rcmg_on_the_field” Instagram account.

Blog posts

Day 14: The eldest man on board

Day 13: Land ho!

Day 12: Night-shift and wildlife

Day 11: Sunken mysteries and deep discoveries

Day 10: Bitterballen, ribbetjes and pizza

Day 9: Pilot core day

Day 8: Whales ahoy!

Day 7: Error 404: boxcore not found!

Day 6: Sailing towards success

Day 5: Trial and error

Day 4: It’s mapping time!

Day 3: Getting into the routine

Overview map of the RV Belgica 2022-18 “DynaMOD 2” study areas with respect to Ireland. A: Belgica Mound Province, B: Gollum Channel System.

“The shipboard scientific party of RV Belgica 2022-18 “DynaMOD 2”.
Fair transit weather in the Channel/Western Approaches.
Bridge and crow’s nest of RV Belgica… with webcam giving a view from the crow’s nest every 5 minutes!