NSU Celebrates Geologist Day with Documentary «The Arctic: Cosmos on Earth»

On April 1, Geologist Day, the NSU.LIFE video channel team showed a film about Franz Josef Land. The video was shot during the Floating University summer expedition. NSU geologists took part in this international expedition.

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For thirty minutes the screen was filled with images of fascinating northern landscapes, meager vegetation, flocks of birds over endless water, and scenes of the ascetic, if not harsh, life for those who traveled to Franz Josef Land on board the scientific research vessel «Professor Molchanov» in June 2017.

The Floating University trip was organized by the Lomonosov Northern (Arctic) Federal University.  The expedition started in Arkhangelsk and lasted 21 days. The scientists on board were from seven countries and included soil specialists, ornithologists, biologists, geologists, etc. The NSU participants were Dmitry Metolkin, Professor General Regional Geology Section and Research Associate at the Institute of Petroleum-Gas Geology and Geophysics SB RAS, Nikolai Mikhaltsov, paleontologist and researcher at the Laboratory for Geodynamics and Paleomagnetism of Central and Eastern Arctic, Victor Abashev who was a post-graduate student at the time, and Nikita Kolesov the NSU.LIFE videographer.

Nikolai Mikhaltsov explained the inspiration for the title «The Artic: Cosmos on Earth», «What we saw in the Arctic, was similar to the images that you see from other planets».   

The geologists on the exhibition had a specific goal, to collect material for paleomagnetic research. A total of 125 specimens and 9 samples were taken to determine the absolute age of the earth's crust. The key characteristic for the study is magnetization due to volcanic activity. Scientists say this is what makes the Arctic similar to, for example, Hawaii.

Expedition members traveled to different islands in the archipelago in small groups on boats that always included a hunter. 

Impressions from the exhibition members included, «A polar bear could appear at any moment and inquire what we were doing there. Fortunately, that never happened. Another danger - the ice could close in around the boat and keep it from being able to leave the island».

According to researchers, the study of the samples will end by summer. A scientific article about their work is already being prepared that will be based on the material gathered on the trip.

The showing of the film was followed by a discussion. There was a large audience with almost no empty seats in the auditorium.   Questions to the film's heroes were asked by the audience that included university students, schoolchildren, pensioners, and very young nature lovers who came to NSU with their parents.

Question: Deer horns were found on the Land of Franz Josef, does this mean that horned animals could have roamed the continent?

Dmitry Metolkin provided the following answer, «Franz Josef Land is now the mainland. The seas that divide the mainland today and the islands of the archipelago are one and the same geological structure. Most likely, deer came there from the mainland through the New Earth on the ice, and then the ice left, and the deer remained».

Question: Who lives in the Arctic now?

Nikolay Mikhaltsov explained, «You imagine the Arctic as a lifeless space. But she literally teems with life. There are a lot of birds, there are polar bears, and we also saw walruses and whales».

Dmitry Metolkin added, «One of the important goals of the expedition was to investigate the signs of global warming. Many specialists from different fields in one way or another touched on this topic in their work. Ornithologists noticed in the very northern latitudes some species of birds that they thought lived more to the south. Thus, signs of global warming really exist».

Question: Did you observe birthdays for crew members or other holidays on board?

We did celebrate birthdays. We also dedicated a celebration to Arctic researchers by drinking salt water from a common cup. Pictures of this were not included in the film.

Question: Since it was the Floating University, what grades did you get?

Nobody failed. Most of the time while the ship was moving, specialists on board conducted lectures for all the expedition participants so you were able to learn a lot of new things.

«The Arctic: Cosmos on Earth» was produced for a wide audience and will be available to the public soon. The trailer is currently available on the NSU.LIFE channel.