17 July. Happy hydrates!

Today we decided to bring a visit to one of the first mud volcanoes discovered in Lake Baikal: Bolshoi (the Big One) is located at almost 1400 m water depth. An ice-cold wind is keeping us company and sheep are happily dancing up and down on the waves. On the ship, the cold and the shaking is less appreciated: woollen pullovers are unpacked and the first sea-sickness symptoms appear. A tasty breakfast and lunch helps to keep the moral stable, but the first coring stations turn out to be disappointing with few sediments and no thermal data.
Then the Big One decides to give us a present: a core with a beautiful mud volcano breccia and a large monolith block of gas hydrates.
Smiles are back, cameras are flashing around, and the flame of the burning ice is warming up the spirit. And in good Baikal tradition, the faces of those who see hydrates for the first time are painted with precious Baikal mud.
For the new participants on board, another present is offered: a free tour by the Vereshchagin crew in the heart of the ship, where the motor and machinery are located and where time seems to have stopped long time ago.
Our intense day of coring only finished after diner, and was closed with a presentation by the geochemical team, Olesya and Masha, who showed with enthusiasm the methodology of pore water gas sampling and the first results of last year analysis. Olesya's presentation was «Hydrocarbon gases of quaternary sediments of lake Baikal; results of cruise TTR-BL2014» and Maria's one was  “The methodology of research of hydrocarbon gases in bottom sediments and near-bottom layer of water”.
In the meantime, the ship set cape to the north, towards a new seep and submarine landslide study area and hopefully also towards a warmer spot.

Jeffrey Poort

Photo Svetlana Bubnova