Pablo A. Heredia Barión: A PhD in Geology around Europe

After the Antarctic Summer Campaign at Carlini Station during February and March 2014, where I collected samples to do geochemical and textural analyzes and radiocarbon dating, I went in May to Bremerhaven to join the research group of Dr. Gerhard Kuhn at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI). After a few weeks of waiting, my samples finally arrived with the Polar Pioneer in Bremerhaven and I could start working in the lab. Before that, I had the great opportunity to present my preliminary field results at the Geology Workshop of IMCONet at the AWI.

To do the textural analyzes I had to take several steps until I could separate the gravels, sands, silts and clays from each other. After that I took the finest samples-eg. clays- to do the geochemistry. The AWI technician Susanne and Rita helped me in every step during the analytics, and also some bachelor and master students. The samples for radiocarbon dating had to wait, as I have to collect more samples in the field in 2015 and date them all together.


During my stay I also spent 3 weeks in BAS, between September and October. There I improved the mapping in the ice-free areas of Maxwell Bay (Bahía Guardia Nacional) from King George Island (Isla 25 de Mayo). The people from the MAGIC department (Peter Fretwell, Louise Ireland and Oliva Martin-Sanchez), taught me the use of several GIS software’s and provided me with very useful information to do the mapping in my working area. With Dr. Stephen Roberts I also had the opportunity to present a poster in Bristol at the UK Antarctic Research Symposium.

Before my arrival at AWI, I arranged my registration as a visiting PhD student at the University of Bremen, which gave me the chance to be enrolled at the POLMAR Graduate School of the AWI and to take part in several training courses. The first training course I joined was led by Dr. Olaf Eisen and brought me to the Austrian Alps, where I learned about the use of georadar, gravimetry studies and glacier mass balance in Alpine glaciological studies. This was a great experience. After that I had the chance to join the Echosounding training cruise with RV Polarstern for one week, where we were trained by Drs. Gerhard Kuhn, Boris Dorschel, Catalina Gebhardt and Johann Phillip Klages to use and understand the echosounding and bathymetric measurements. I also had the opportunity to travel to Tallinn, Estonia to do a research vessel-based multidisciplinary oceanographic training course with the EU program “Eurofleets2”. Here I met PhD Students from all over Europe and together we learned how to proceed in many oceanographic measurements with different techniques and devices, and after that, how to process the collected data.

But not all was only about work in that time. I got to know very nice people at the Havenhostel in Bremerhaven in my first weeks and I spent a beautiful time with them. They were Students from around the world, who had training courses and internships at the AWI facilities. With the wave of Argentines between June and September, Bremerhaven became the German city with a Latino Feeling. That was like to be in Argentina and Germany at the same time!

Throughout all these field trips, training courses and working in the lab I had the great chance to be trained to use equipment I would never be able to use in Argentina, to meet great scientist and new friends, establish new contacts and spend an amazing time in Bremerhaven. During those 6 months Bremerhaven became my second home and I am more than grateful to all the nice people I met during my stay at AWI and BAS. I never thought I was going to have such incredible moments like those enjoyed in Bremerhaven. This experience marked a turning point in my life, with a great personal and professional development

See you next year Bremerhaven!

Pablo A. Heredia Barión