Following his visit to the Australian Antarctic Division offices in Hobart, Tasmania, Expediton Organizer Dr. Robert Schmieder made the final decisions that will define the expedition.
The expedition is scheduled for January 2016. It will use the Belgian vessel Cmdr. Fourcault, taking a team of 35 persons. The vessel will sail from Capetown, South Africa, and will go directly for Heard Island. After landing the team and equipment by helicopter, it will stay at the island for 30-days, providing support, emergency capability, and movement of personnel and supplies to various locations on the island. Following recovery of the team and equipment, it will return to Capetown. The entire journey will take about 50 days.
The central goal of the expedition is to discover previously unknown species, colonies of life supported by the heat from the volcano, organisms that have exceptional ability to withstand rapid and prolonged temperature change, and evidence of environmentally-driven speciation in populations with minimal or no predators or niche competitors. The expedition will contribute to our understanding of the limits of life in extreme environments and to the dynamics of biodiversity in the Antarctic. The expedition is part of a worldwide effort to map and describe the biosphere, in particular life at the edge of life.
The team will be made up of several sub-teams, each with its own goals: The mountaineering team will carry out the first-ever traverse of the 9000-ft. volcano, mapping and searching for unknown life supported by the active volcanic heat and emissions. The cryptobiology team will search for previously known species in the rocks, gravel, soil, ice, and on plants and bones. The marine science team will explore the lagoons, the shallow subtidal areas, and will search for a reported new species of killer whale. The communications team will use amateur radio to make up to 150,000 individual contacts worldwide using the callsign VKØEK, and provide real-time reporting of data and images to the internet, including automatically updating websites that display the activities of the team. The documentation team will record the logs and data, shoot still and video images, and atempt to observe unusual atmospheric and planetary optical and meteorological phenoma. These five activities will be presented on separate real-time interactive websites.
The expedition will be carried out under the auspices of Cordell Expeditions, a nonprofit research organizatioon that has done expeditions to remote islands for more than 30 years. For further information, please contact Dr. Schmieder at email@example.com, and visit the expedition website www.heardisland.org.