….. its been a while.
This week has proven a bit of a novelty – well at least novel for the last two years.
We have shipped out a set of instruments heading for a deployment off the Azores.
Blog readers will remember that we’ve been there before – in fact it was our last deployment before the COVID era, so it seems appropriate to start the (hopefully) post-COVID era with a deployment back to the same general location.
Not only has COVID happened in between, but so has Brexit or, more specifically, the transition out of the “Brexit transition period” which has now seen the consequences for international shipping come fully into play.
So, normally our biggest challenge would be recovering instruments from the harsh environment of the seabed.
Arguably, so far, the challenge has been a battle between customs documentation and finding a lorry and driver to take the freight to Portugal.
Both have taken months to sort out and find.
Finally, on Monday, with both paperwork and a lorry (and driver) in place – we dispatched the instruments to make their way by road, cross-channel ferry (hopefully not queuing the M20), and road to Porto in Portugal and from there by freight vessel to Horta in the Azores.
First a lorry – handily with tail lift.
Load file heavy pallets of instruments, ballast, batteries and miscellaneous other deployment/recovery equipment, including the test rig for the releases.
Ensure everything is lashed down and braced, and then off it goes for a four day drive to warmer climes.
We will be tracking this via our shipping agents as it passes every customs jurisdiction – the paperwork has to be stamped – the instruments will then sit in storage in Porto for about a week waiting for the vessel that will take it to Horta which is on the island of Faial, in the western Azores.
This project is another URGENCY activity designed to record earthquakes that are occurring under the seabed and within the islands of the Azores, where the Atlantic ocean is rifting apart and magma is being injected to build new crust – part of the solid outer shell of the Earth.
The team will make their way to Horta in a couple of weeks time, and there make ready the instruments for deployment using a ship from the Portuguese navy.
The instruments will sit on the seabed for approximately 5 months, with a recovery planned for February.
And like red buses – in between we are scheduled to complete a larger-scale project in the Pacific off Costa Rica.
This Azores project, though, also involves one of the NERC “sister” facilities that supplies the equivalent instrumentation for recording earthquakes on land. It will be interesting to see what the land stations record compared to the seabed ones that sit in a much quieter environment.
In the mean time – we track our outbound shipment to Horta!