Jennifer Magnusson's blog

Expedition 336: One Year Later!

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since Expedition 336 set sail from Barbados. The scientists have all been super busy analyzing the samples and data we collected on the cruise, and it’s almost time to hear their results! The data from each expedition aboard the JOIDES Resolution enters what’s called a moratorium for a year after the cruise ends.

What did we accomplish?

The scientists on the Mid-Atlantic Microbial Expedition have been working hard to answer two fundamental questions central to the mission of Expedition 336: What is the nature of microbial communities harbored in young ridge flanks and what is their role in ocean crust alteration? Where do deep-seated microbial communities come from?

Kitemaking 101, or "How I Learned to Make a Kite out of Dum-Dum Wrappers"

I have never made a kite before. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve flown a kite. I do like the Mary Poppins song “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” though, and although I don’t have tuppence for paper and string, I do have the Internet, a garbage bag and about four dozen Dum-Dum lollipop wrappers!

The View From the Top


One of the most recognizable features of the JOIDES Resolution is its derrick. This imposing tower stands 190 feet above the water line…almost 20 stories high! The derrickmen onboard routinely climb to the top to service and maintain the crown sheaves: large blocks or pulleys that form the uppermost part of the rig. The drilling line—a heavy wire rope—runs between the crown blocks and the traveling blocks in an arrangement that provides mechanical advantage to raise and lower the drill string. One of the derrickmen, Bobby, who has been working on the JR for 27 years, took three members of the science party on a rare tour of the crown, and I was amazingly lucky enough to be among them! I have spent a lot of time sailing on tall ships: climbing up the ratlines, looking out from the crow’s nest, or working on the yardarm to set and stow the sails. I am not afraid of heights; rather I find them exhilarating. So I was ready for my climb. Still, it took my breath away!


Halloween + Core = Fun!

I tell students in our videoconferences that the reason we work 24/7 onboard the JR is that “Science Never Sleeps!” Well, it turns out that science doesn’t really care for Halloween, either.

We have been coring non-stop for the last 8 days, including Monday, which was Halloween. Just as we were all getting ready for the big Halloween party, we heard the call, “Core on Deck…Core on Deck!” So techs and scientists headed out to the catwalk to process the new core…some of them already in costume. Take a look:

Trick or Treat! Creative Costumes on the JR

As adults, we don’t often get the chance or have the motivation to go all-out for Halloween. I find that I generally put all of my creativity into my son’s costume, then fall back on my old stand-by witch costume for myself when we go trick-or-treating. When you’re at home, the hustle and bustle of your workaday life also gets in the way, so there’s just no inclination or opportunity to get all dressed up. Out here, though, Halloween gave us something out of the ordinary to look forward to and plan for, and we all enjoyed the promise of a day different from the rest. Everyone put a lot of thought and effort into coming up with costumes that were funny, scary, traditional, or just plain imaginative. It’s amazing what we were able to do with some felt, staples, glue, paint, and whatever else we could find onboard!

A Very MacGyver Halloween

MacGyver was a resourceful secret agent on TV in the 1980s who was famous for being able to solve any problem he encountered with everyday materials he found lying around. We’re not secret agents out here, but that’s a pretty good description of everyone putting together some pretty amazing Halloween costumes with office supplies, a little bit of felt, and a lot of imagination!

Things I Miss

Well, they’re here: the mid-cruise blues. Being on a deep-sea research ship is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime, super-cool, never-to-be-missed opportunity for me to see some cutting-edge science and meet some amazing people, but let’s face it. You can’t take the world with you! That being the case, there are definitely some things I am missing right about now. Some more than others!

Livin’ it up on the JR!

I get a lot of questions from students, family, and friends about what life is like out here on the JR in the middle of the rolling sea, so I thought I’d take a moment and tell you about it. Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ve included a few here. That means that a video must be worth about 10,000 words, so I’ve also included one of those (don't miss's all the way at the end). I hope this gives you a good idea of what we do for fun (other than science, of course)!

Expedition 336 Comic Book Art

Mid-cruise comics: We’re coming up on “Hump Day,” the exact middle of our expedition, so it’s time for another chance to win an Adopt-a-Microbe T-shirt! I’d love to see your graphical interpretation of our cruise so far…comic book style. You can illustrate your favorite scene from one of our blogs or videos, or include several events in your strip. It can be funny or dramatic, realistic or cartoonish…be creative! Your comic-book-style illustration must fit on one 8.5 x 11 paper, but can be broken into as many segments as you’d like. It can be drawn by hand or computer. Don’t forget to check out JR’s own comic book, “Tales of the Resolution<!

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