18 gennaio 2012
Tristan da Cunha and the Gondwana supercontinent. A german expedition
Marion Jegen (GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel) is chief scientist of an expedition to the archipelago of Tristan da Cunha, conducted with the German research vessel MARIA S. MERIAN in January and February 2012. Its aim is to collect new data in order to answer some of the open questions concerning the breakup of Gondwana and the forming of the southern Atlantic. In other words the island Tristan da Cunha plays a key role in the general understanding of plate tectonics. The island of Tristan da Cunha is a volcano with a diameter of 12 kilometres, a population of 300 and lies more than 2500 kilometres away from the next inhabited land in the southern Atlantic. And the origin of the archipelago is closely connected with the breakup of the Gondwana supercontinent 120 million years ago. But what happened exactly is still controversial. The scientists onboard the RV MARIA S. MERIAN will implement a multi-disciplinary geophysical study of the region by acquiring marine electromagnetic, active and pas-sive seismics as well as gravity and bathymetric data. In addition to the scientific work the MARIA S. MERIAN also provides logistical support for the inhabitants of Tristan da Cunha. The German research vessel will deliver mail and three British engineers whose task will be to repair damaged port facilities of the settlement "Edinburgh of the Seven Seas". The Royal Mail ship Saint Helena drops anchor there twice a year. Thus the administration is happy about every additional ship calling in Tristan.