University of the Sea 2006, February 7th-26th
Auckland to Sydney
Nineteen students and three marine scientists, representing seven countries (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Australia) joined the French Research Vessel Marion Dufresne in Auckland under the auspices of the "University of the Sea" for oceanographic research training. During the 20 days at sea the students got "hands on" ocean science experience and gained research skills applicable to oceanography, climate change, frozen methane and sea floor mapping. This initiative brings together young marine scientists and trains them in many aspects of marine science in the hope of building a network of future researhcers and managers of the oceans in the Indo-Pacific region.
The prime objectives of the research survey were to investigate some unusial geophyical features in the Fairway and Capel sedimentary basins between New Caledonia and the east coast of Australia. It was a collaborative cruise between IFREMER (the major French marine science insitute), IRD (French institute for research and development) and Geoscience Australia, with additional support from the New Caledonian Directorate of Industry, Mines nad Energy. The Co-Chiefs of the survey were Jim Colwell (GA) and Dr Jean-Paul Foucher (IFREMER). The survey was undertaken in both French and Australian territory.
The major issues being addressed included the nature of buried sediment domes and the high thermal gradient in some places indicating the escape of hot fluides from deep in the underlying sediments. Several long cores were taken using the specialised Marion Dufresne Calypso corer, along with several grab samples and heat flow measurements. Sea floor "swath mapping" was used to determine the ideal locations for all of these sea floor activities. The University of the sea students were involved in all of these activities as well as having a series of lectures on different aspects of marine science and oceanography from Prof. Patrick DeDeckker (ANU), Prof. Jock Keene (USyd), Dr Greg Skilbeck (UTS) and Dr Julie Dickinson (USyd).
The cruise was a great success and I know that the Geoscience Australia team and the french scientists were very grateful for all enthusiastic help with many of the logging, coring and sampling activities.
At the end of the survey the Marion Dufresne docked in Sydney Darling Harbour where many members of the Geoscience and French community were given tours. and there was a cocktail party and presentation by the Co-chiefs, University of the Sea, and the French Ambassador.
For more information about the Survey and daily activities of the University of the Sea participants go to the UOS website.