“With complimentary handshakes and best wishes from all involved at Atlas Professionals in Newquay, I began my journey north. Many familiar faces joined me on the journey to Greenland, many known from my affiliation through Atlas. This is one thing I have come to recognise with Atlas Professionals; the quality of personnel they provide is such that clients are actively seeking continuity.”
On 26th May 2011 Dave began his journey to the north. It turned out to be a harsh arctic spring. “After flying several thousand of kilometres over a barren icy wilderness, with glaciers as high as skyscrapers and ice-capped mountains for as far as the eye could see. We knew one thing for sure, this was going to be a cold campaign”, Dave Stark tells us.
“Our start was delayed by at least a week or three because of an unusually cold winter; all exploration sites were covered in several metres of ice. The waters of Greenland also threw up another challenge that few were expecting. As well as working in areas over 3000m deep, the spacial changes in seawater salinity were causing a big headache for surveyors on board. Speed of sound through the water was changing by as much as 60m/s in as little as 500m when navigating in and around the ice fronts. Flows of fresh water around the ice meant the speed of sound errors became very apparent in the multibeam data, and also tracking of USBL beacons was a big issue through the halocline. During the Greenland campaign it was agreed that nothing was to be left on the seabed, this meant the use of XBTs was out of the question. I have never seen a CDT deployed and recovered so much on one job. I really did feel for the engineers who were continually braving the arctic conditions for several hours at a time on the surveyor’s behalf.”
After almost three weeks of continuous and rigorous kit testing, it was with much relief that the latest ice forecast has shown a break up in the ice. “It was now time to throw the gear in the water and begin the first site survey of the season, just in time for the exploration rig, Leiv Eiriksson, which had made the journey up from Turkey.”
After a fairly quiet start to the campaign, the first four weeks had flown past and compared to some jobs, been relatively uneventful. Dave continues: “It was now time to leave behind mile upon mile of pancake ice and towering icebergs, and pass the baton on to the new crew aboard the Kommandor Stuart. As with all jobs, whilst we were tucked away in some far-fetched corner of the earth, Calesurvey together with Atlas Services Group had been busy getting the next crew ready for our handover. Every four weeks (sometimes eight) new crew arrived. In summer 24 hours daylight, so double dayshift, and in winters no more of the dreaded 4am head-nodding waiting for the sun to appear.”
Environmental baseline survey
“My second stint in Greenland began early June, the weather was warming up to just above freezing, and the ice really was starting to melt fast. This was great for Cairn and Calesurvey and exciting for those eager to start collecting data. The majority of the Southern deep-water sites were now completed, and it was time to move north to shallower water. This was also the start of an extensive environmental baseline survey, which had been sub-contracted out to Benthic Solutions limited. The crew of the Kommandor Stuart would now be involved in a prolonged coring and drop camera operation. Hundred of still photos were to be taken, along with hours of video footage of the seabed. Geochemical analysis of the seabed also meant the environmentalists rarely surfaced from their wet lab.”
“In September 2011, gigabytes of data were collected, processed, charted and reported. Calesurvey’s maiden trip to the arctic had been incredibly successful. Working solely with Atlas Professionals, the crew of the Kommandor Stuart and all those involved back in the UK can be proud of what they have managed to achieve this year.”