AURORA BOREALIS - a new research icebreaker for polar deep-sea drilling

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Lembke-Jene, Lester۱; Biebow, Nicole۱; Kunz-Pirrung, Martina۱; Egerton, Paul۲; Thiede, Joern۱
Holding Date 27 September 2008

In spite of its critical role in global climate and tectonic evolution, the Arctic Ocean is one of most unexplored ocean basins of the world, its geologic and paleoenvironmental history remaining largely unknown. Restricted by circulating sea ice, scientific drilling has been slow to arrive in the Arctic Ocean. After ODP Leg 151 had drilled the Yermak Plateau, it was not until 2004 that the ACEX expedition retrieved several hundred meters of sediments on top of Lomonosov Ridge, thereby proving that deep-sea drilling in permanently sea ice-covered ocean basis is principally feasible. At most times, it has not been possible to sufficiently sample and date the sedimentary record preserved in the basin beyond the length of a single core. This dominating lack of data remains and represents one of the largest gaps of information in modern Earth Science. To address the pressing logistical and infrastructural needs of the polar scientific community on a long-term perspective, a new research icebreaker and deep-sea drilling vessel, AURORA BOREALIS, is planned for future continuous operation in deep, permanently ice-covered basins.
The AURORA BOREALIS is currently designed as a new type of research icebreaker with a customized deep-sea drilling rig in order to operate in any deep, permanently ice-covered ocean basins to fulfil the needs of the IODP or its eventual successor as a Mission-Specific Platform. New technologies comprise a novel hull design, a dynamic positioning system for operations within sea-ice of up to 2.5 m ice thickness, and advanced ice-forecasting support. Two moon-pools allow deployments of ROVs and other support equipment during drilling o

perations in ice conditions. A customized weather-protected deep-sea drilling rig with fully sheltered staging and preparation areas for science and technical works enables sampling of the ocean floor in water depths between 80 and 5000 m with 1000 m or more penetration below mudline under polar conditions.
This icebreaker will allow to stage long international, interdisciplinary drilling expeditions in the central Arctic. In a long-term perspective, AURORA BOREALIS will also be used to address Antarctic research targets, both in its mode as a regular research and a scientific drilling vessel. We report on the current status and new features of the technical design, the scientific outline and operational perspective, and the European collaborative ERICON - AURORA BOREALIS Project.