Geolog expedition

It has now been just over a month since we returned from Lake Baikal! The expedition was an incredible fieldwork experience and a great success as we came back to the UK with all the water profile samples and sediment cores which we had planned to collect.

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Onboard the ‘Geolog’, George and Sarah were accompanied by Lena Vologina from the Institute of the Earth’s Crust (Russian Academy of Science), Alison Ball and Julia Lehman from the Urban Promise Academy (in Oakland, California), and three crew members (the captain, second captain and cook). With all their help and great company they made our expedition a fantastic experience and success. Thank you once again for everything!

From the left: George, Sarah, Elena, Julia, Alison and our cook and captain

From the left: George, Sarah, Lena, Julia, Alison and our cook and captain

The research vessel left Irkutsk and spent 5 days within the South basin travelling to our 8 water sampling sites, with sediment coring carried out at 6 of these. A total of 4L was collected from 9 water depths (1m, 3m, 5m, 10m, 20m, 30m, 50m, 100m, 180m) using a Van Dorn water sampler and filtering was carried out on the deck.

Water sample filtering

Water sample filtering

Lena with a sediment core

Lena with a sediment core

We re-visited the three water sampling and coring sites we worked at in March, when the ice-cover was c. 1m thick. This was incredible to be on the boat at the same sampling spot where 4 months previously we were standing on the ice, collecting samples through an ice-drilled hole. We then travelled northwards and spent 4 days within the Central basin, collecting samples from 4 sites (with 3 sites located within Maloe More).

Maloe More; Central Basin

Maloe More; Central Basin

Once our Central basin sampling was complete, we said our farewells to Julia and Alison as they departed the boat to travel back to Irkutsk on road. We then collected Anson and Ginnie from a ferry port within the Central basin, to continue our work in the North basin. We spent 4 days travelling up to the Upper Angara at the very top of the North Basin, and sampled the water profile at 4 sites (collecting sediment cores from 3 of these sites). Once our field sampling was complete, we made our way back down to Irkutsk, taking additional samples near the Selenga delta and in the Irkutsk Reservoir.

In total we came back to the UK with approximately 360 samples for water quality analyses, 180 Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) samples, 180 phytoplankton samples,180 Silicon samples and 20 sediment cores.

Now all the laboratory work is underway, and with the majority of water samples now analysed the sediment core analysis will soon begin…!

Sampling Lake Baikal’s Tributaries

As many of you know, we had two legs to our summer expedition trip in August 2013. Sarah and George were responsible for lake coring and lake water sampling, based onboard The Geolog. While Anson and Ginnie headed off into the outback, in their trusty “Tabletka”, sampling the lake’s many tributaries and catchments.

The Tabletka

The Tabletka

The Road Trip leg started off on Wednesday 31st July from Irkutsk, via the Russian Academy of Sciences, in order to fully stock up on camping supplies and provisions for our 11 day drive around Lake Baikal’s Southern and Eastern coast.

Provisions for the expedition

Provisions for the expedition

Our two companions Alexander Sizov and Pavel Firsov, along with our driver Igor, made up our team. Their knowledge of the terrain and countryside was invaluable as was their “great outdoors” experience. 

Sasha (Left) and Pasha (Right)

Sasha (Left) and Pasha (Right)

Sampling the Selenga River. Image thanks to Anson Mackay.

Sampling the Selenga River. Image thanks to Anson Mackay.

Leaving Irkutsk we headed in a south-easterly direction to Lake Baikal’s southern coast and the town of  Slyudyanka, where we would commence our water sampling. At each site, samples were collected to analyse the dissolved silicon isotopic composition of rivers (δ30SiDSi ), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), nutrients and total phosphorous (TP).

Every night, after setting up our tents we would begin our ritual task of filtering samples through the respective filter papers for each of the different analyses as well as labelling all bottles and acidifying. While Sasha and Pasha would organise our camp and begin cooking dinner for us all. Finally, before the end of the night we would consult our maps and itinerary and finalise our travel plans for the next day.

Setting up Base Camp in the Selenga Delta. Image thanks to Anson Mackay.

Setting up Base Camp in the Selenga Delta. Image thanks to Anson Mackay.

For more information of the different sites that we sampled and the terrain that we covered, keep posted. We covered a fair distance, reaching as South as the Mongolian border. We saw quite a variation in the landscape and vegetation so more updates soon…