R/H SABVABAA - FRAM-2012: Norwegians Return to the High Arctic after 116 Years

John K. Hall

Geological Survey of Israel, Retired

Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, 3:15pm
Chase 130

The research hovercraft Sabvabaa's 2012 summer field season, FRAM-2012, was a test run towards the ultimate goal which is to examine the oldest sediments in the Arctic Ocean that an asteroid impact has uncovered in the crestal regions of the Alpha Ridge. FRAM-2012 offered the possibility of obtaining old sediments from the Lomonosov Ridge.

After several weeks over the Gakkel doing 3D seismics using an airgun and four hydrophones linked by a WiFi, as well as monitoring small earthquakes with the hydrophones, it was to be refueled by the Oden and progress over to the Lomonosov Ridge. Yngve Kristoffersen of the University of Bergen is accompanied by graduate student Gaute Hope, who is doing his MSc thesis.

Sabvabaa worked independently for a month, using fuel supplied by Oden. It had four dart-like free-fall corers and 3000 m of 3/8" kevlar rope (breaking strength 2.8 Tons). It attempted to sample places where other seismic data indicates near-surface deep sediments. The rest of the time they dredged and completed airgun seismics.

The project had some setbacks but much was accomplished and lessons were learned that will inform future endeavors with Sabvabaa.


John Hall received his PhD from Lamont in 1970. His thesis involved geophysical mapping of the Arctic Ocean from Ice Island T-3 (Fletcher's Ice Island). Upon graduation he moved to Israel, and spent 35 years with the Geological Survey of Israel. In 2003-2004 he was a Visiting Scholar at CCOM. During this time he became reacquainted with the Arctic, participating in CCOM's UNCLOS cruises in 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009. While at CCOM in 2004 he partnered with Prof. Yngve Kristoffersen of the University of Bergen and CCOM in the building and equipping of a research hovercraft to carry out oceanographic, geological, and geophysical investigations. This platform offers a relatively inexpensive way to carry out research in the most inaccessible parts of the Arctic Ocean. The particular target is the study of a possible asteroid impact zone on the Alpha Ridge north of Ellesmere Island, site of the oldest cores thus far raised in the Arctic.