Steaming South

The reports are in; at the Natal Valley site we’ve recovered sediment back to about 6 million years, with a pretty constant sedimentation rate of 4-5 cm per thousand years. Lots of exciting science is sure to come out of this when all is said and done.

We’re currently steaming south to our next core site on the southwestern flank of the Agulhas Plateau. ETA is Tuesday morning, then 8 days of coring. In the meantime, we’ve been busying ourselves with science talks, and watching the waves, looking out for wildlife. Today we were rewarded with a whale sighting.

Whale

Safety Drill #2

We had our second safety drill yesterday. This time, we had to practice putting on our immersion suits. We call them gumby suits. They are meant to keep us warm in case we have to abandon ship and enter the water. I’ve included a picture for your amusement. Enjoy!

Scientists in orange rubber immersion suits

Scientists in orange rubber immersion suits

Core on Deck!

We’re at our first site, NV-02C in the Natal Valley. Core has been coming up since yesterday, and we’re now drilling down into the Pliocene aged mud, probably around 3 million years old. Everyone was super excited to see the first core come up yesterday. The first few cores had a lot of interesting features, including a pretty drastic color change near the top, and some turbidite layers. As we’re drilling deeper and deeper, the sediment is much more highly compacted, and a pretty consistent light grey color, punctuated by frequent greenish sandy layers (glauconite?). We’ll stay here for about a week, and continue drilling, hoping to get a continuous record spanning the last 5 million years.

The first core!

The first core!

12-hour shifts

Today we started officially working our 12 hour shifts. However, we turned the clocks back 1 hour today, so it was actually a 13 hour shift for me. That’s a long work day. We had a planning meeting for core sampling, and started to practice making measurements in the chemistry lab. We’re still at least a day away from retrieving any cores, so it was a pretty laid back work day. We had plenty of time to watch the sunset from the front of the ship.

Sunset

If you’d like more details about what goes on here on the ship, be sure to visit the links on my “Follow Us” page.

Full speed ahead

We finally left port today. Woo hoo!

Rainbow!!!

Double rainbow as we depart from Mauritius

This morning started with most of the science party and technical staff out on the bridge, saying goodbye to Mauritius Island. We even had a double rainbow to mark our departure. We later has our first boat safety drill, donning bright orange life vests and hard hats. After lunch, we got an update on the plans for the next few days, and then one of our esteemed chemistry technicians gave the geochemistry group a demonstration/tutorial on the procedures for measuring headspace gases with the gas chromatograph, and measuring pore water chlorinity and alkalinity by titration.

The seas are a bit rough and the ship is moving pretty fast, so I spent most of the rest of the afternoon sitting on deck watching the horizon to avoid getting seasick. In the next few days, we’ll have more science meetings and practice making measurements in the lab before we get to our first coring site.

Out to sea

Instead of teaching Chemistry and Environmental Science courses this Spring, I’ll be out to sea … literally!

For the next two months, I’ll be on board the Joides Resolution, sailing around southern Africa collecting deep-sea sediment cores. Be sure to read the “About” page and click on the links to learn all about the scientific goals of this research cruise. I’ll post updates here as often as I can. In the meantime, go to the “Follow Us” page to see other ways to follow my journey.

I’m so excited to be participating in IODP (International Ocean Discovery Program) Expedition 361, and to share my experiences with you! Stay tuned…