Sediment drilling and coring, Weddell Sea

Position
Lat. 0°0'0"N, Long. 0°0'0"E

RRS Sir David Attenborough

A new polar research ship for Britain

Undisturbed sea-floor sediments can reveal the past history of the Antarctic continent.  Sampled from the ocean floor or from beneath ice shelves, these sediments can be taken back to the lab for analysis to aid investigations into ice-shelf thinning and retreat, sedimentary processes and oceanic circulation.

Research teams recover sediment cores from the seafloor using a variety of methods and instruments.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough will be equipped to handle a 42m giant piston corer, which will be able to recover sediment cores going back up to 2.7 million years from the seafloor.

Drills can be undertaken in locations underneath floating ice shelves thanks to hot-water drilling technology, giving researchers access to the seafloor even in places where the ocean is permanently covered by ice. Here, the BAS percussion corer can be used: it is driven via a manually operated hammer mounted on a hammer rod with a striking plate.

In deeper sub-ice locations (> 1 km of tether) the corer can be modified so that the weights are hoisted, then released automatically by a triggered release mechanism. A short gravity corer is used to collect undisturbed surface samples.

The RRS Sir David Attenborough will also feature a 12-core multi-corer and 42m giant piston corer and will be able to deploy the RD2 rock drill, which can operate at depths of up to 3,000m. It can collect cores of 62mm diameter up to 15m below the seafloor in 1.5m sections.

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