And here we are, the DISCO project has been running for 2 years already!! Time is flying…

This is the perfect occasion to have a meeting with the whole team, and we were very  fortunate to have been awarded a stay at Ekenäs Herrgård near Flen (South of Stockholm) by the Oscar and Lili Lamm Foundation. At Ekenäs they have all the facilities for scientific workshops. Meaning a multimedia room of course (with wifi, projector, printer…), but also good food, and fika with unlimited coffee!

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Five people joined for those 2 intensive days: Helena, Kalle, Emma, Petra and Laurie. The plan was first to synthesize the results we have collected so far, and to discuss the data. That took us the whole Tuesday afternoon!

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On Wednesday morning, Toyo and Melissa showed up on Skype, for some very interesting discussions. In the afternoon, we talked in details about expected publications, which data should go where and which ones are still needed. And finally, we made plans for the future: which analysis have priority now, which conferences we should attend in the coming years…

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That was a very stimulating stay, where we could clearly see the work and progress of the others, and share our point of view and ideas. The interdisciplinary of our team was definitely a bonus! Everybody felt very satisfied, the level of motivation has never been that high 🙂

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Keep up with the good work!

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Weird living foraminifera without their shell found in the Baltic Sea: that is one of the first result of the DISCO project (did some of you hear about zombie forams??). That was unexpected, and so we decided to investigate those forams further. The plan is to culture them to see how they react when exposed to different environments (mainly pH and salinity variations). This experiment will be running during two months by Laurie, at JAMSTEC in Japan. There, the Japanese DISCO collaborators have all the equipment ready for it. But before going for the plane, let’s take some live forams samples in the Baltic Sea.

Four people came: Helena, Jeroen, Nadine and Laurie. We packed the car and left the Geology Department around 17.30 on Monday 8th of June. When we arrived at Simrisham, the ship was already waiting for us. After dinner, we did a bet: the closest in guessing what will be the salinity at the station tomorrow won!

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We left the harbour at 7AM on Tuesday, for a two hours trip under a beautiful sunshine. We had plenty of time to get prepared for our station called DCHa-3. We first took water samples with the CTD, for geochemistry measurements. Some bottom water was also collected, for the future culture experiments. And the CTD profiles confirmed it: Jeroen won, the salinity at the bottom was 18.3!

Then we collected surface sediment thanks to the box corer, where the living foraminifera are. After a quick sieving, the samples were stored at 7°C, which was the temperature at the bottom water. After lunch, we took even more box corer sediment, to be sure to have enough forams to bring to Japan.

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We were back in Simrisham at 5pm, and after a really early diner on the ship we drove home in Lund with the car full of living forams. Let’s hope that they will survive the plane and above all, that they will like Japan!

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Hej folks!

It’s already October, but what a good Summer we had here in Sweden! Because of this warm summer and the lack of water column ventilation last winter, we expect that bottom water oxygen levels dropped even more compared to the last time we were out at Gullmarfjorden in June. We therefore decided to go back to the fjord to observe the state of the environment just before the winter, let’s go!
Six people joined the cruise: Helena, Laurie, Petra, Nadine, Bernhard, and Emmanuelle (researcher from University of Angers). We packed the van on Monday morning the 20th of October and we left after lunch, straight towards the marine station at Kristineberg. This time, we did not stay on the boat, but in a very nice and cozy house. The perfect place to take some rest before the coming intensive days.

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Let’s go on the boat! The sky is grey, but it’s not raining and there was only a little wind. We left at 9am on Tuesday morning towards our first station: DF3. Here we took water samples with the CTD at different water depths. Nadine was in charge of the sampling for a bunch of geochemistry measurements: salinity, δ18O, alkalinity, δ13C and trace metals.
After lunch, we took a second CTD to collect 20 liters of water from 12 different water depths, which will be filtered by Petra. That’s 240 liters of water! The aim is to study the differences in composition of organic matter along the water column and how it relates to the carbonate system in Gullmarfjorden.

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Then we used the GE-max corer to collect 4 cores. The one for microprofiling was covered with parafilm, to keep the low oxygen level in the top water. We came back early to the harbour for dinner, and for the next experiments. While Laurie and Emmanuelle were taking some oxygen profiles with the microsensors in a cold room of the marine station, Helena, Nadine and Bernhard sectioned the 3 other cores: one for the CTG method, one for past analyses, and one for biomarkers. This last core will be the main samples for Bernhard’s master project. During this time, Petra was filtering of course!

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The Wednesday was the living foraminifera day. We went to station DGF70-2 (without Petra, who stayed ashore to filter water), where we first took water samples with the CTD for the same geochemistry analyses as yesterday. Then, we used the Box-corer for about 10 times to collect surface sediment, which contains living Bulimina species. The sediment needs to be sieved with bottom marine water and stored at 8°C, which is the temperature of the water.
After lunch, we went back to the station DF3, which is a spot for living Globobulimina species. We took again many Box-core sediment that we had to sieve. Finally, we took two Gemini cores to do oxygen and pH profiling.

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Back on land, Laurie and Emmanuelle went to the cold room to take oxygen and pH microprofiles, which were quite unusual under these hypoxic conditions. Helena and Nadine analysed the CTG data, and Bernhard studied for his coming exam. And of course Petra was filtering!
After dinner it was time to slice the last cores and to begin packing for the way back. And Petra managed to finish the filtering! Congratulations!
On Thursday morning we unpacked the boat, which had to leave the harbour early and repacked the van. We left the station around 9:15 am, after the final group picture. We stopped in Göteborg airport to drop off Emmanuelle who was flying back to France. It took a bit more time for us to get back to Lund: because of an accident we were stuck on the highway for 1 hour without moving!

In conclusion, another successful cruise in Gullmarfjorden!

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It has been a while since our first DISCO cruise last year November. We are currently still processing all the samples and analysing the data. Now 6 months later we decided to go back to Gullmarfjorden. In this Swedish fjord ventilation occurs normally once a year at the end of the winter, but this has not happened yet. Therefore, the oxygen levels are expected to be very low in the bottom waters. Not so good for the fauna, but good for scientists. So let’s go on a cruise again!


During this 3 day expedition our party consisted of 6 people: Helena, Petra, Laurie, and Charlotte joined last time, whereas Wenxin and Johan are new DISCO sample members. We left Lund University on Tuesday the 10th of June in the afternoon and drove straight to the research station of Gothenburg University at Kristineberg. After packing the R/V Skagerak, we spent the night on the boat, ready to go.

We left the harbour around 8am towards our first station. The plan was to take samples at two stations: DFG70-1 and DF-2. Like with the first cruise, we took CTD measurements, water samples, box cores for live foraminifera, and cores with the GE-max corer. We immediately started to sieve surface sediment and to slice some core tops. This time the GE-max sediment cores were sliced in 0.5 cm slices to retrieve ultra-high resolution records.

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We were back at the harbour in the afternoon, time to slice all the cores! The microprofiling was done in a cold room at the research station.

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We finished around midnight, exhausted and covered in mud, but happy!

We were back in Lund on Thursday afternoon together with a lot of new samples to analyse, exciting!



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The last two days of the cruise went rather smoothly, and we had no problems sampling stations CHa-2 and DBY2-1. The sea returned to its normal November roughness and the weather gods were with us again. On both days, besides the usual CTD profiles and 5 gravity cores, we also took box cores for sampling live foraminifera.

Box core 1  Box core 2

Now we only have to slice our last core and wait for the microprofiles to be done and our work here is finished!

Last core  Last microprofile

Of course this is reason for celebration: time for mojito’s!!


Next morning, the sad moment finally arrived to say goodbye to R/V Skagerak. We were picked up by Kalle (who had left us on Sunday evening) and Wenxin. We had so many samples now that it didn’t all fit in the university van. We also took an additional core with us to do microprofiling at Lund University and for foraminifera analysis.

Pick up  Core at LU

We can look back at a very successful cruise! But of course this is not where it ends. This is just the beginning!! So keep following us on this blog, where we keep you updated on a frequent level on the progress of the DISCO project!



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A storm was expected to hit the south of Sweden on Saturday and therefore we couldn’t go out to sample. So we had a well deserved day off. In the morning we explored the very picturesque town of Ystad, but on our way back to the boat it was almost impossible to walk against the wind. During lunch the R/V Skagerak was seriously pounding against the harbour wall and even some ropes broke. There were no other more protected place in the harbour and we had to leave Ystad and head out to open sea in the middle of the storm, which had reached its maximum at that time! An interesting and very bumpy ride followed towards Simrishamn, which was about 6 hours away from Ystad. This time we were prepared though and tied down our equipment as much as we could to prevent it from flying around. In the kitchen some of the cups had smashed on the floor and one of the chairs had fallen against the tap of the (almost completely full) water cooler, flooding the mess floor. Luckily none of us experienced serious problems with seasickness and we all reached Simrishamn in one piece.

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On Friday morning, 3 more people joined our team: Per, Christian and Kalle. Per, a senior lecturer in marine biology at Lund University, only joined for the day to take GE-max sediment cores, which he will use to study the resting stages of diatoms. Kalle and Christian came on board to give us an extra hand. It’s now very busy on the boat and most of us are dressed in fashionable orange!


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Today we sampled at 2 locations: DÖ-1 where we only took core tops and at DV-1 where we sampled 2 extra GE-max cores for Per. In Landskrona, where we performed the microprofiling and the slicing of the sediments, Per and Simon left the R/V Skagerak. During the night we travelled towards Ystad, which is a 10 hour journey.

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On Wednesday we arrived already at 7:30 am at our next station (DP2-1). The weather was perfect again. Barely any wind and sunny. At this site the GE-max cores were very short and we only sampled the core tops. Because it was still so very early we moved to our next sampling station (DA-1). Here we also took CTD profiles and GE-max cores (5 in total). Everything went very smooth. During the night we travelled to station DAn-1, so that we had an early start on Thursday as well. We did not have any problems with the sampling here too. Besides the CTD profiles and the GE-max cores, we also took box cores for sampling live foraminifera. We did the microprofiling and slicing in the harbour of Helsingborg. We form such a good team now that everything went very fast. To celebrate our good work so far, we went for drinks together with Helen McGregor who came to visit us that evening.

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Of course, to keep everything still exciting and not too boring, we had our little incident as well. On Wednesday morning Simon suddenly saw that the sink in his quarters was overflowing! Apparently one of the pumps stopped working. The crew was busy the whole morning cleaning the pipes in Simon’s rooms. Next day, however, it happened again. They thought to fix it by plugging the pipes, but then the quarters of one of the crew members overflowed as well. The crew had to flush all the pipes. Not a very pleasant task, because it was the waste water from the showers, sinks and kitchen! And I did not even mention the smell yet!!

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On Tuesday the 5th, we left Kristineberg at 7 am towards our next station (DÅ17-1) out on the open waters of the Skagerrak. Pia, Charlotte and Kalle had left the ship earlier that night, so we were now left with 6 cruise members. The journey took about 3 hours, which we used to sleep after this short night.

The weather forecast for the day looked fantastic. Clear sky, sunny and not too much wind. We got started with fresh spirit! We did not have to take any box cores today and we were finished with the CTD measurements and GE-max coring before lunch.

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During the afternoon the wind increased quite a bit more than predicted and caused some heavy sways of the ship. Nevertheless we managed to get some great profiles from the Multisensor.

We were almost finished with the measurements and slicing of the cores, and just had some stuff to clean. Most of the people were already gone, when everything went wrong… The storm got worse and worse, and the waves became so strong that Petra lost balance and fell! Luckily it turned out to be ok. Meanwhile, in the lab equipment was flying around and Laurie and Petra tried to keep everything secure. Despite this effort, a sudden wave knocked down the core Laurie used for the multiprofiling and smashed on the floor.

According to Laurie: “I panicked! Everything was falling around me, and I was shouting for help! I tried to save everything at the same time, but I couldn’t catch the core and it broke! I was relieved that finally people came to rescue me!”.

Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and despite some broken glass in the kitchen, the only damage was to this core. This does not have any consequences for the rest of the cruise, because we used the core as a spare, and we can still use it into the GE-max corer.

Broken core

Because of the heavy storm we could not go to our next sampling location and it was decided to spend the night into the harbour of Mollösund.

Boat at night


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During lunch the boat finally arrived. After loading it with our stuff and, very important, the food, we could leave towards Gullmar Fjord. Luckily the wind had subsided. We arrived without problems at our first station (DF-1) and immediately started working. We first lowered the CTD to take a temperature, oxygen, salinity and other profiles, and for water chemistry samples. Then we used a GE-max gravity corer to take our very first cores. Exciting!!

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CTD and GE-max multicorer

We further used box corers to sample live foraminifera from the surface and subsurface sediments, which we sieved using bottom water we collected previously from the CTD. A poor worm got caught between the grabbing arms of the box core. It was still alive, but our attempts to save it failed miserably. At least the seagulls had a big feast!

poor worm seagull dinner

This all took about the whole afternoon and after dinner we still had to slice the 6 cores and make a multiprofile of the top sediment. In the meantime we were back at the harbour at Kristineberg and our team was enlarged with 2 more people (Simon and Anupam), so we were good to go. But while setting up all the equipment disaster struck! Where was the stand for the Multisensor device? We really needed this! The Multisensor is very sensitive and needs to be stable. We broke out in panic when we realized we left the stand at Lund University….

But the fantastic crew of the RV Skagerak came up with the perfect solution by screwing the motor of the Multisensor to the wall of the ship. Problem solved!

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The measurements still took much more time than planned and also the slicing of the cores was very time consuming. Even though we soon had a good routine going. We did not finish until 3 o’clock at night. But all-in-all we still can look back at a very successful first day of sampling!


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