From Wednesday 5 June 2019 until Tuesday 18 June 2019, RV Belgica will be surveying a part of the Belgica cold-water coral mound province, located on the eastern slope of the Porcupine Seabight, offshore Ireland. The shipboard scientific team consists out of 10 scientists and technicians from Ghent University (RCMG, Dept. of Geology), Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS).
The mission of the survey, framed within the FWO DynaMOD (an oceanographic and sediment DYNamic MODelling study of MOunded contourite Drifts) project, is to focus on the increase of bottom current intensity in the presence of a seabed with a complex topography such as cold-water coral mounds. Previous investigations along the eastern slope of the Porcupine Seabight (off Ireland) have indicated a sufficiently small area having the potential to become a unique natural laboratory to investigate this present and past sediment dynamic variability. Firstly, we aim to understand and quantify the temporal and spatial variability of the present-day hydrodynamic regime. This will be carried out through the installation of a short-term seabed mooring by NUI Galway (which will be a first-timer for RV Belgica!). Secondly, through a very-high resolution acoustic dissection of the subseafloor (reflection seismics), we aim to obtain a pseudo-3D view of the contourite drift, formed due to the action of bottom currents. Additional near-seabed visual observations will be carried out on selected sites using the VLIZ ROV Genesis. During the geological surveys, our RBINS colleagues will be performing observations for marine mammals and birds.
During this survey, 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 6th. 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.