Geology & Geophysics

An understanding of the stability or otherwise of the floating ice shelves surrounding the Weddell Sea over the last few thousand years is needed to place recently observed changes within a long-term context. This Expedition will use geological and geophysical methods to investigate the former position of the grounding line, which is the point at which the ice sheet ceases to be in contact with the underlying seafloor.

Sediment cores collected from close to the ice front can show how the grounding line position has changed over time; for example, coarse grain sizes are more likely to be produced when the grounding line was close to the core site. In addition, the use of downwards-looking sonar on Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) can enable the identification of glacial landforms that were produced during former periods of relative stability in the grounding-line position.

  • Glaciology

    The ice shelves that fringe the Weddell Sea, which include the Larsen C and Flincher-Ronne ice shelves, are the floating portions of glaciers that transfer ice from large ice-sheet interior drainage basins to the marine environment.

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  • Geology & Geophysics

    An understanding of the stability or otherwise of the floating ice shelves surrounding the Weddell Sea over the last few thousand years is needed to place recently observed changes within a long-term context.

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  • Marine Biology

    The Weddell Sea extends over an area of approximately 2.8 million square kilometres and is one of the most pristine marine ecosystems in the world.

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  • Sea Ice Research

    Approximately 25,000 years ago, during the coldest apart of the last glacial period, the ice in region of the Weddell Sea may have been up to 100m thicker and extended 400km North.

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  • Oceanography

    The Weddell Sea is one of the few areas where deep and bottom water masses are formed to contribute to the global thermohaline circulation.

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  • Marine Archaeology

    We have a team of leading marine archaeologists who hope to locate Shackleton’s lost Endurance ship. The 44m long sailing vessel journeyed into the southern regions of the Weddell Sea. The ship has still not been found.

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