SWINGS cruise

French GEOTRACES GS02 cruise

In the remote Southern Ocean considered as a nutrient “hub” between the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, the sources, sinks and processes controlling vital nutrient distribution and thus the biological carbon pump remain a black-box to date. In this context, SWINGS is a multidisciplinary 4-year project dedicated to elucidate trace element sources, transformations and sinks along a section crossing key areas of the Southern Ocean. Major French contribution to the international GEOTRACES programme SWINGS involves 80 scientists (19 international laboratories, 6 countries). The major piece of this ambitious project is the oceanographic cruise “SWINGS” (South Indian Ocean GEOTRACES Section) to which 48 researchers will participate.

The French GEOTRACES SWINGS GS02 cruise will start from La Réunion island (France) on January 13th, 2021 and end at the same place on March 8th, 2021.  During 52 days, many stations will be sampled with various pieces of equipment on board the Marion Dufresne II research vessel in order to elucidate trace element sources, transformations and sinks in key areas of the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean contributing to the global effort of the GEOTRACES programme.


21 January 2021, 7H AM: Durban, a turbulent stopover

To tell the truth, we didn’t enter the port of Durban (South Africa), but we stayed offshore, about 4 km from the entrance to the port. The reason for our stopover was the essential need to retrieve the work equipment of Heather and Tommy, our South African colleagues, equipment that had become stuck on the […]

20 January 2021 : Crossing a Trichodesmium bloom!

Trichodesmium is a fascinating phytoplankton for oceanographers. Discovered in the mid-1960s, it has the particularity of capturing atmospheric nitrogen, a process called nitrogen fixation. As the atmosphere is an almost unlimited reservoir of nitrogen (80%), this capacity is a real advantage in subtropical waters, which are very poor in alternative nitrogen sources. A few days […]

19 January 2021, 00h30 AM: off the coast of Durban

We have just arrived at our third station, off the coast of South Africa! On the program, 24 hours or almost 24 hours of water collection of all kinds: standard and “clean” CTD rosette, in-situ pumps, mini coring machine.Over the next 4 stations, we will deploy everything to track the Agulhas current and quantify the […]

15 January 2021, 10h30 AM: we leave the test station

A “test” station is made to… test everything: the devices that will be launched, but also the fluidity of the operations, the organisation of the research teams and the experiments in the labs. Since Wednesday 13 at the end of the day, the ship is full of knowledge, for the scientists, the crew, but also […]

13 January 2021, 7h30 AM: Departure!

After months of preparation and two days of mobilization, we left this morning at 7:30 a.m., with a certain emotion present on all decks.The dolphins accompanied us as soon as we left the port. On the way, since this morning, we have made tests of “fish”, a small torpedo that we drag on the side […]

12 January 2021, end of the mobilization

A “mobilization”, in the oceanographic language, it is the installation of the cruise on board of the research vessel. That is, the distribution of 22 tones of material and 48 scientists in more than 15 small laboratories from bottom to top of the ship. There are even collectors of dust and rains all in top, […]