Researchers from the University of Bergen and Lundin Energy Norway are gathering seismic data that could contribute toward understanding the geology in a larger area of the Arctic over the Yermak Plateau in the Arctic Ocean north of Svalbard. Large volumes of data have been acquired, including the world’s first 3D seismic gathered using a drifting ice floe. In addition, this includes measuring the temperature and salinity of the entire water column (a depth of about 1500 metres). They have also deployed measurement buoys for the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, which will measure the impact of sea ice on wave height and frequency. They are also using a high-frequency echo sounder to register the inward spread of e.g. Arctic cod spawn from the ice edge zone. The echo sounder also registers the cod spawn’s access to food, primarily copepod (Calanus finmarchicus). All of this wouldn't be possible without their 2000TD hovercraft.
The concluding remarks from the report are here:
Fram-2020 is the third ice drift expedition with the hovercraft platform. Fram-2012 (2.5 months) went to the Gakkel Ridge at 85° N and operated in cooperation with the icebreaker "Oden" and retuned with "Polarstern". Fram-2014/15 (12 months) was the longest continous field operation on drifting sea ice ever made by western scientists. The hovercraft was deployed by "Polarstern" on the Amerasia side of the North Pole. The drift brought new data from the unexplored Canada/Greenland facing section of the Lomonosov Ridge and Morris Jesup Spur and Rise north of Greenland not achievable by icebreaker surveys. Fram- 2020 (1.5 month) have probed the unexplored northeastern part of Yermak Plateau using an approach which represents two scientific "firsts" in Arctic Ocean exploration; i) 3-D seismic survey and ii) ultra deep underway seismic signature recording.
The hovercraft "Sabvabaa" (from Inuit; ..flows swiftly over it...) has by now covered a distance of more than 4.000 km over sea ice and over 20.000 km in total during 21 trips from Longyearbyen to the ice edge and beyond.
A Norwegian polar exploration effort would benefit from improved understanding of the advantage and cost benefit of integrating complementary logistic resources.
We gratefully acknowledge the technical support and systematic approach of senior engineer Ole Meyer, University of Bergen as being the corner stone for making our ambitious seismic data acquisition effort successful. Advice on software quirks and the fast response of Andras Feszthammer of iSeis, Ponca City, assisted our implementation of the node technology. Ivar Gimse of Magseis-Fairfield generously lent us the node for deep source signature recording. In the end, the safe return from the ice edge to Terra firma secured by the advice and tireless effort of Bj(l)rne Kvernmo, skipper and owner of "Havsel", is much appreciated.
Blodgett-Hall Polar Presence LLC provided the hovercraft, Lundin-Energy, Norway support for the field operations and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and Axxis Geo Solutions support for geophysical equipment.
Ny-Alesund 2 September 2020
Tor Arne Johansen and Yngve Kristoffersen Department of Earth Science, University of Bergen.