Ready, steady, go!

19 September

Today all the boxes and equipment were brought on board and the different teams were busy unpacking boxes and setting up labs.


And finally, at 22:00 we said good bye to Longyearbyen! Before we start our HACON adventures exploring abyssal hydrothermal vents under ice, we will spend the next few days recovering several moorings for other colleagues.




Getting ready for work under and on the ice!

The NUI team has been busy today, starting to get NUI ready for the cruise, both in the hangar where NUI will be based and in the control room. It is from the control room that NUI will be piloted. It is also from this room that we “dive” with NUI to the Arctic abyss and explore the Aurora hydrothermal vents. We cannot wait to see what kind of vents and animals await us there!


In the meantime, another group was in a course organised by UNIS, learning how to be a polar-bear guard for the work that we will do from the ice and also about safety and rescue when working on sea ice. We all ended up in the (cold!) waters of Longyearbyen harbour, where we learnt how to swim on a survival suit, alone and in a group, how to get back on the ice and how to help others to get back on the ice. It was a good and fun course!

In Longyearbyen


Photo: arriving to Svalbard for the HACON cruise.

Most of the HACON team is already in this amazing part of the world, preparing for the HACON cruise. The hybrid ROV/AUV NUI is by the R/V Kronprisn Haakon and the NUI team from WHOI have been busy all day getting it ready.

Tomorrow, some of us will take the UNIS sea-ice safety course and the polar-bear guard course, while others continue mobilising equipment on board.


Photo: Longyearbyen, 17 Sept. 2019


The count down has started!

  • 7 days until many of the HACON cruise participants meet in Longyearbyen!
  • 9 days until we sail on board R/V Kronprins Haakong to the Gakkel Ridge!

Ice960_Incoming copy

The way to Aurora. Photo: C. German, WHOI.

Our team of 37 geologists, geochemists, physical oceanographers, micropaleontologists, microbiologists, ecologists, engineers and NASA astrobiologists, together with a writer and a film maker from National Geographic are making the last preparations for this exciting cruise to explore and study the first deep hydrothermal vents discovered under Arctic ice.

IceBot01 copy

NUI over the Aurora seamount in the discovery Polarstern cruise (2014). Photo: C. German, WHOI.

With us will be the newly upgraded Nereus Under Ice (NUI) hybrid ROV/AUV from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. NUI will be our main equipment to survey the Aurora vent field. We cannot wait to find out what wonders may await us!

Follow us here for updates on the cruise and our discoveries!


Jan 2019: First Cruise Planning meeting

The HACON cruise planning is well underway! During 2.5 days, the HACON science team met with the engineers of the ROV Ægir, the hybrid ROV/AUV NUI, the towed system OFOBS and key personnel from the Kronprins Haakon icebreaker to start planning the cruise.

The HACON cruise will take place from mid-September to mid-October 2019 on board the Norwegian icebreaker Kronprins Haakon. We will sail from Svalbard to the Gakkel Ridge and study the Aurora seamount and hydrothermal vent field at 82.5 °N. There, we expect to find sea ice conditions with ice floes drifting over the study area.

The team discussed the challenges and possibilities of operating high-technological vehicles on a complex topography at 4000 m depth under ice. First plans for sample needs and sharing amongst partners, equipment to be used, operations logistics and work on board were made, and these will be refined in the next months to ensure a successful cruise.


The HACON cruise team. From bottom right: Eva Ramirez-Llodra (NIVA, project lead); Stefan Buenz (UiT, cruise lead); Pierre Antoine Dessandier (UiT); Stig Vagenes (UiB, Ægir); Håkon Dhale (UiB); Dimitri Kalenitchenko (UiT); Andy Bowen (WHOI, NUI); Giuliana Panieri (UiT); Benedicte Ferre (UiT); Mette Svenning (UiT); Tina Kutti (IMR); Lissie Victorero (MHN/NIVA/UAVR); Mari Eilersten (UiB); Chris German (WHOI); Hans Tore Rapp (UiB); Eoghan Reeves (UiB); Mike Jakkuba (WHOI, NUI); Autun Purser (AWI).

Missing from the photo: Ida Steen (UiB); Ana Hilario (UAVR); Kevin Hand (NASA-JPL); Jan Bremnes (IMR, Kronprins Haakon); Leif C. Mørk (HI, Kronprins Haakon).