TRASNA Blog - Day 1

TRASNA Blog - Day 1

March 12, 2016   

Written by:
Rachel Wireman Niall Keogh
Geologist PhD student
College of Charleston, USA Marine and Freshwater Research Centre GMIT, Ireland

The R/V Celtic Explorer began its voyage deemed TRASNA, Trans-Atlantic Survey North-Atlantic, across the Atlantic from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Galway, Ireland last night, May 11, around 20:00 local time under the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance. The research team consists of international team of scientists from Ireland, Canada, and the U.S. The majority of us seek to collect bathymetric data across the Atlantic Ocean, with special focus on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Previous trans-Atlantic cruises were able to collect data in a region of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge which is especially tectonically active. In addition to the offset spreading ridges which are present here, and common in the area, there also exists two transform faults separating the spreading ridges. It’s such an interesting place to collect bathymetric data that there are still many discussions being had on where exactly survey should take place this year in effort to maximize our understanding of the region.

Others researchers on the ship, however, are not interested in bathymetric data but are instead surveying for seabirds.  These surveys will be conducted during the TRASNA research cruise by Niall Keogh (PhD student, Marine and Freshwater Research Centre GMIT), ably assisted by Andrew Power. Data gathered during this trip will add to a timeseries on the abundance and distribution of seabirds in the North Atlantic collated during transatlantic crossings from the RV Celtic Explorer in recent years.

The first day of surveying over the shelf edge and deep waters north of the Flemish Cap produced a total of twelve seabird species including red-necked phalarope, Leach’s storm-petrel, pomarine skua, Brünnich’s guillemot and puffin (as well as some fog and icebergs!).

An iceberg several kilometres off of the coast of Canada. (Photo taken by Niall Keogh)

Speaking of icebergs, the bathymetric data collected thus far contains much evidence of both recent and ancient glacial scouring. This occurs as glaciers and icebergs move across the ocean and scrape the bottom of the seabed.

Bathymetric data  collected during the first day of the transit shows glacial scouring in the pits and apparent “scrapes” across the surface.