Research Expeditions

Research Expeditions

At any one time scientists and technicians from the UK marine community can be at sea on numerous vessels. This page provides information on the current research expeditions being undertaken by our two Royal Research Ships Discovery and James Cook. Here you can discover where our ships are and what they are aiming to achieve.


Updates from the ships’ Plans of Intended Movement (PIM)


RRS Discovery RRS James Cook

Vessel: Discovery
DTG:    180917 08:00
Zone:   UTC+1

Exped: DY084

Subj:    PIM 

Pos: SST, 26/27 Berth, Southampton

Wx:  Lt. Airs. Overcast with light mist. Harbour conditions


Status: Commence mobilisation for DY084.

Load lube oil.


Intentions: Continue with mobilisation. ETD Thu 21-SEP-17 

Vessel: James Cook

DTG: 200917 0800

Zone: UTC+2


a: Dock 2, Damen Amsterdam

b: Refit work continuing as per spec

Ships’ positions

This map shows the positions of the NOC operated vessels RRS Discovery and RRS James Cook. While every effort is made to keep this map up to date sometimes position updates are not possible.


MARS Portal


Latest Expeditions

RRS James Cook

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
JC152 Tim Minshull

National Oceanography Centre, Southampton


North Sea

18 days


Characterising leakage pathways through the overburden of the North Sea

CHIMNEY is a NERC-funded project examining potential leakage pathways from reservoirs in which carbon dioxide might in future be stored. The location of CO2 leakage and the potential intensity of CO2 leakage at the seafloor are critically dependent on the distribution of fluid pathways in the sediment overburden and on the permeability of these pathways.

Evaluation of seismic reflection data as part of a recently completed EU project (ECO2) has revealed ubiquitous structures cross­cutting vertically through the overburden within the North Sea and Norwegian Sea.

These seismically ­imaged pipes and chimneys are considered to be pathways for sedimentary fluid flow. Natural gas from deeper strata is likely to have migrated through these structures into the water column at some point in geological time. If the CO2 plume reaches the base of these structures, and if their permeability is high enough they will act as pathways for CO2 leakage. To provide a reliable prediction of seep sites, and a quantitative assessment of CO2 emissions, the nature and especially the permeability of these pathways needs to be better constrained.

It has been suggested that many chimney and pipe structures imaged on seismic reflection profiles in the North Sea represent (1) a fracture network that has been reactivated by pore fluid pressure which facilitates the migration of fluids upwards; and (2) nearer surface lateral migration of fluids along stratigraphic interfaces.

The CHIMNEY project will include a geophysical field program and associated rock physics experiments, geochemistry and modelling, to constrain chimney permeability.  It will be closely linked to related work within the EU Horizon2020 project STEMM-­CCS.

During expedition JC152 in August-September 2017, we will complete a broad frequency range anisotropy experiment over a chimney structure within the North Sea. We will deploy 25 Ocean Bottom Seismometers from the UK Ocean Bottom Instrumentation Facility, and record signals generated by low frequency airguns, GI guns and a higher frequency deep tow sparker.

The cruise will follow on and be closely linked to a STEMM-CCS cruise on the German vessel RV Maria S Merian in May 2017, during which high-resolution 3D seismic reflection and controlled source electromagnetic surveys will be conducted across the same chimney structure, and the structure will be drilled by the British Geological Survey’s RD2 rock drill.

Further information can be found here.

RRS Discovery

Cruise Principal scientist & institution Location Duration in days (begins) Aim
DY083 REFIT Amsterdam 26 days

RRS Discovery Refit 2017

The refit on RRS Discovery in 2017 will be an alongside, afloat repair period.  This period will concentrate on annual statutory certification surveys, fabric maintenance of the vessel and annual maintenance to the cranes and lifeboats.

We will also be rectifying some of the deficiencies identified during the 2016/17 Science Verification Period trials.



Previous and Upcoming Expeditions

Learn about the previous research expeditions that have been undertaken.