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110 Loki's Castle

03 . 11 . 2020


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In 2008 a Norwegian-lead expedition to the seafloor of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between Greenland and Norway brought to light an extraordinary finding: The northernmost deep-sea hydrothermal vents within the Arctic Circle. Dissolved sulfide minerals that solidify when vent water as hot as 300 °C (570 °F) hits the icy cold of the deep sea have, over the years, accumulated around the vent field in what is one of the most massive hydrothermal sulfide deposits ever found on the seafloor. The accumulation of the chimneys assembles the shape of a fantasy castle what led the scientists the name it Loki's Castle, referring to a Norwegian god renowned for trickery.

At a depth of around 2,352 metres (7,717 ft) the cluster of five hydrothermal vents, also called black smokers, the whole deposit is about 250 metres (825 ft) in diameter at its base and about 90 metres (300 ft) across on the top and might turn out to be the largest such deposit seen on the seafloor. Given the massive sulfide deposit, the vent field must surely have been active for many thousands of years.

The more spectacular findings, however, is that scientists discovered a new group of Archaea, the Lokiarchaeota (or "Loki" for short), and identify it as a missing link in the evolutionary lineage of eukaryotes or all complex cell organisms. In this context, the discovery of the Lokiarchaeota, with some but not all of the characteristics of eukaryotes, provides evidence on the transition from archaea to eukaryotes. Because of that, some scientists think the vents would have been great locales for the origin of life on Earth.

109 The Last Surrender

28 . 10 . 2020


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In summer 1944 one of the last manned stations (code-named Haudegen) was established on Svalbard at Wordiebukta, Rijpfjorden, Nordaustlandet. A party of 11, led by geographer Dr Wilhelm Dege, collected and transmitted weather data from 14 September 1944 to 5 September 1945; the party also explored and mapped the ice-free corridor extending south across Nordaustlandet to the head of Wahlenbergfjorden and much of the north coast from Kapp Loven east to Finn Malmgrenfjorden. World War Two ended in Europe with the unconditional surrender of the German high command on May 7th, 1945 in Reims. What no one realises is that a tiny, forgotten outpost of the Third Reich was holding out in the eternal daylight of the Arctic summer, over 3200 kilometres (2000 miles) away from the ruins of Berlin. Wilhelm Dege later wrote the book "War North of 80: The Last German Arctic Weather Station of World War II."

108 Shooting the Northern Lights

20 . 10 . 2020


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It's Aurora season and capturing this amazing phenomenon in the ionosphere isn't as difficult as you think. Chris and Henry look at photos and discuss their experiences and stories around the pictures. The most important things to watch out for is to dress warm (because it's cold), watch stray light, expose long, use a tripod if you can, include something nice in the foreground, maybe even a reflection in water and if you're on a ship, time the waves and find a fix foreground.

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