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The aim of the TRANSDRIFT X expedition (August 30-September 23, 2004) was to map the seafloor in the eastern part of the Laptev Sea with high-resolution techniques. On the basis of the data thus obtained, the most promising locations for drilling into the seafloor during the planned drilling campaign TRANSDRIFT XI are to be chosen. Another important task was the recovery of two mooring stations. These had been deployed in the eastern part of the Laptev Sea in 2003 to record oceanographic parameters every hour during one whole year. The results of the seismic program are expected to provide deeper insight into the composition and structure of submarine permafrost. Moreover the data of the mooring stations will be the basis for investigating the possible impact of environmental changes on permafrost sediments.

Seventeen scientists from research institutions in Bremen, Bremerhaven, Kiel, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Tiksi took part in the expedition aboard the Russian research vessel YAKOV SMIRNITSKY. Originally an operation with two research vessels (the Russian drilling vessel KIMBERLIT and RV YAKOV SMIRNITSKY) had been planned. As, however, the sea ice conditions were extremely adverse in 2004, participation of KIMBERLIT had to be cancelled and this part of the research was postponed to 2005.

The geophysical investigations were successfully carried out. In order to record the complicated permafrost structures in detail, three measuring systems (multi-channel seismic data acquisition, sediment echosounder, and side scan sonar) were used. The newly designed multi-channel seismic data acquisition system provided by Bremen University allowed for the first time operating a high-resolution seismic system in shallow water. Preliminary processing of the 45 transects shows:

  • there is evidence of permafrost sediments and gas vents throughout the working area. It was possible to distinguish between the diverse layers so that the distribution of the permafrost surface can be recorded.
  • there exist complicated sediment structures in the upper 100 m of the seafloor. The data allow distinguishing between two prevalent types, deep penetration and very high resolution in the southeastern part of the Laptev Sea and shallow penetration and very high resolution in the northern and central parts of the Laptev Sea.

A high-resolution ADCP dataset for the period of one year was obtained for the region of the Laptev Sea polynya north of the Lena Delta.The recovery of the mooring stations deployed in 2003 was only partly successful. The station LENA 03 and two CTDs from station YANA 03 could not be recovered. The biological and chemical working programs were carried out successfully at 12 stations.

Click here to read the daily reports of TRANSDRIFT X.


The participants of the expedition:

  • Ekaterina Abramova, Lena Delta Reserve
  • Anna Belan, Moscow State University
  • Vladimir Churun, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute
  • Yury Goremykin, All-Russia I.S. Gramberg Scientific Research Institute of Geology and Mineral Resources of the World Ocean (VNIIOkeangeologia)
  • Alexandr Gukov, Lena Delta Reserve
  • Evgeniy Gusev, VNIIOkeangeologia
  • Jens Hoelemann, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
  • Heidemarie Kassens, IFM-GEOMAR Leibniz Institute for Marine Sciences
  • Torben Klagge, IFM-GEOMAR Leibniz Institute for Marine Sciences
  • Petr Krynytskiy, VNIIOkeangeologia
  • Ivan Makhlaev, VNIIOkeangeologia
  • Andrey Novikhin, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute
  • Pavel Rekant, VNIIOkeangeologia
  • Tilmann Schwenk, Bremen University
  • Volkhard Spiess, Bremen University
  • Thomas Vogt, Bremen University
  • Lars Zuehlsdorff, Bremen University