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PhD student Sabrina Renken returns from scientific cruise

March 2014

The WICPro (West Ireland Coring Program) survey took place from the 6th to the 18th of March 2014 on the Irish research vessel Celtic Explorer. This was a collaboration of scientists from several Irish (UCC, UU and TCD) and continental universities (University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and University of Milan - Bicocca, Italy). As the survey name implies, the main focus was to obtain cored sediment from several study areas on the Irish western shelf and margin to support a variety of research objectives. These include studying the environmental records from cold-water coral reefs, the ice limits and glacial processes on the western shelf, and the history of glaciomarine deposits from the Porcupine Bank margin.

TCD's Geology PhD candidate Sabrina is interested in these glaciomarine deposits, in particular in the Heinrich layers which were deposited during the last glacial period. She aims to investigate the way in which the British-Irish Ice Sheet influenced these deposits off the west coast of Ireland. Accordingly, the goal was to gain at least 2m deep cores in the study area as previous work indicated Heinrich Events within this depth range.

At the beginning of cruise bad weather caused a lot of seasickness for nearly all scientific participants. Another consequence was that it was not possible to operate any corers. After hiding two days in Bantry Bay and testing the equipment, the gravity corer and the Geo-Source 400 sparker seismic system, to cruise headed off to do some real work. In total, over 73 m core material was recovered; among this nearly 19 m (a quarter!) are from Sabrina's study area, the Porcupine Bank margin. In total, 8 sites were cored there, 4 in shallower water (around 1000 m) and 4 in deep water (around 3000 m). Although, the cores of the shallow water sites never exceeded 1.50m, the deep water cores were deep enough to cover the time of interest.