Sources & Sinks: A Tale of Coastal Biogeochemistry - BONUS COCOA
Equipment explained: part II - the GEMAX / GEMINI corer
Yet, with increasing water depth and subsequently decreasing light, sampling via diving becomes complicated. On the dark side of the sea floor we therefore use sediment corers operated from ships. As corers have no eyes, we work virtually blindfolded which can often feel like gambling (and thus holds a certain kick). Sediment maps are helpful for giving directions, especially in early planning phases; however, often they are extrapolated or outdated and when looking at the first sample coming on deck, you might find that the sediment type has changed over the years, e.g. due to a change of current regime or deposition environment.
Surprises for free, excitement guaranteed- that´s sediment coring!
retrieval of a sediment sample from the sea floor depends largely on the right
corer. Sediment types vary in sturdiness, resp. softness, e.g. comparing sturdy
sand sediment with soft mud sediment; consequently, you have special corers for
each type. If you have followed this blog for some time, you will have heard
about MUC, HAPS, GEMAX, GEMINI, BOX – over the last 3 years, we have had them
Today you will meet the GEMAX/GEMINI corer, which is according to an essay by Boris Winterhalter the “ultimate corer for soft sediment”. Do I need to say more?
The GEMAX /
GEMINI corers are twin gravity corers for soft sediments. They base on the
original Niemistö corer (Niemistö, 1974), which was highly successful with the
only offset of a too small sample size. By doubling the core barrels a twin
corer was born, self-evidently baptized GEMINI. Sample quality was further improved
by increasing the diameter of the core barrels, which created the GEMAX.
Today, both GEMINI and GEMAX are standard corers all along the Baltic Sea coast. They consist of a stainless steel housing which is fitted by acryl core liners with sharpened steel cutters at their ends; those, as the name says, are capable to cut through the sediment. In the end, the core liners will hold the sediment sample. Both corers might look alike, but do not underestimate their difference: even 1 cm variation in core diameter makes a huge difference when trying to fit in a wrong inner core liner. From experience I can say: no, they don´t fit and no, they also cannot be squeezed in. Acryl is a quite solid material.
The corer penetrates soft sediments vertically based on its own weight and the lowering speed of the winch. Upon upwards pull a closing mechanism is triggered that locks the sediment securely in the core liners, creating a nice sediment core of ~ 30-40 cm.
And action: Laetitia, Wytze and Mathias while retrieving the full core liners. Requirements here: be quick, put the plug tight and don´t be afraid of getting muddy (left). My house, my car, my....sediment core: happy mood while subsampling a fresh core (right). (pictures: Ines Bartl, IOW)
Some care needs to be taken for the core liners, which somehow have a tendency to roll over board. Your only solution if you want to have them back: diving- and the circle closes.
Next time in equipment explained: why a toilet brush is an essential tool in sediment coring.