Friday 18th February

Today's contributor: Jon Copley

With our scientific work completed and expedition report now compiled, we are heading ever closer to our final port of call. Our journey will have covered more than 7000 miles:

During that journey, the SHRIMP towed camera system spent more than 97 hours surveying the seafloor, at depths between 400 and 2400 metres:

We recorded 439 profiles of the water column with the CTD probe, and collected several tonnes of deep seawater for analysis:

We collected more than 150 samples of seafloor sediments using the megacorer, box corer and gravity corer:

We have collected specimens of deep-sea animals, some of which may be new species:

Although the damage to the Isis ROV early in the expedition forced a change in our plans, the data and samples we have collected have already provided a much clearer picture of hydrothermal activity in the Bransfield Strait, how vent systems change over time at the East Scotia Ridge, and suggest that there may be more vent fields out there awaiting discovery in the largely unexplored craters of the South Sandwich Islands.

Further work ashore will examine the food webs at the sites we have studied, the microbiology of their deep waters, the impact vents have on the biogeochemistry of the surrounding deep ocean, and the biodiversity of the Southern Ocean.

None of this work would be possible without the outstanding support of all the ship's company, and the technical staff aboard from UK National Marine Facilities. Our science relies on working as a team, rather than working in isolation in a lab, and once again we are fortunate and priviledged in the excellent team that we have aboard.

This evening saw the "RPC" - a traditional celebration led by the Chief Scientist to mark the end of the expedition. On a trip as remote and challenging as this one, it was perhaps no surprise that festivities continued into the small hours and were greatly enjoyed by all.

We hope to return here again, and that you will join us again in the future. Our thanks go to those who have visited these pages from more than 34 countries during this expedition; it is your planet, and we hope that you will continue to share in its exploration.

January 2011


February 2011