Department of Earth Sciences
Dr Michael A. Kaminski

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The ACEX Arctic Drilling Expedition

In August - September 2004, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program embarked on its first "Mission-Specific Platform" expedition to drill the Lomonosov Ridge in the Arctic Ocean. The expedition consisted of three ships - the 75,000 HP Nuclear Icebreaker "Sovietskiy Soyuz", the Swedish icebreaker "ODEN", and the Baltic icebreaker "Vidar Viking" which was specially modified to function as a drill ship. An international team of scientists worked on board the ODEN, which housed the Micropalaeontology labs and most of the scientific party. The cruise attracted media attention, and news articles appeared in many of the International newspapers, as well as on the BBC news. Here is just a selection of the news reports that appeared in the London papers. During the transit home, our party stopped at the geographic North Pole - one of the Group Photos taken during the occasion has recently appeared on the cover of the IODP newsletter. This event should enter into in the record books for the greatest number of Micropalaeontologists visiting the North Pole at the same time (11).
"On Top of the World" with IODP Expedition 302 - the Arctic Drilling Expedition On August 7, 2004 an international team of scientists left Tromsø Norway on board the Swedish Icebreaker Oden to take part in a 6-week expedition to drill the Lomonosov Ridge. The ACEX expedition was the culmination of over 15 years of planning to drill the first ODP sites in the Central Arctic Ocean. The Scientific Party was headed by Profs. Jan Backman from Stockholm University and Kate Moran from the University of Rhode Island, who submitted the original drilling proposal in 1997, which received overwhelming support from the scientific community. We left Tromso together with the Vidar Viking, which was outfitted with a SeaCore R100 drilling rig and a new helicopter deck. After meeting up with 75,000 HP Sovietskiy Soyuz, we commenced our transit through the Arctic icepack to the drill site, 250 km from the North Pole. The scientific party was dominated by Micropalaeontologists who studied core samples brought daily by helicopter to the ODEN, which was outfitted with a new purpose-built laboratory. With the Oden and the Sovietskiy Soyuz providing icebreaker support, the Vidar Viking was able to maintain position in the multi-year pack ice, and drill a total of 5 holes. We drilled to a depth of over 430 metres beneath the sea floor, and recovered cores of sediment that represent the last 80 million years of earths history. One exiting finding was the recovery of the Paleocene/Eocene boundary, a time of rapid global warming, and mass extinction among deep-sea benthic foraminifera. We now be able to document this extinction event for the first time in the Central Arctic Ocean.

After 15 days of drilling, we began preparations for the transit back home. The Vidar Viking was refueled, equipment and personell were transferred between ships, and we headed back via the North Pole (which was along the way). Since we had made good time, we were able to stop at the pole and get out onto the ice to celebrate our successful expedition. The final photos (and the one on the cover of the JOI Newsletter) show our party at the North Pole.

and a few photos...

Arctic Arctic
Nuclear Icebreaker Sovietskiy Soyuz on station... ... and breaking ice

Arctic Arctic
Icebreaker and Drill ship Vidar Viking Fantail of Vidar Viking

Arctic Arctic
Oden - our Research Ship View of Sovietskiy Soyuz from Oden

Arctic Arctic
Drilling rig - view during refueling Oden

Arctic Arctic
Micropaleontological laboratory

Arctic Arctic
Transfer of people Transfer of equipment

Poles at the Pole


This page last modified 1 June, 2006

The Arctic Drilling

Arctic Coring Expedition

Nature - 1 June 2006


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