Chem Lab 101

Today we took a rotation in the chemistry lab.  We learned about squeezing sediment cores for solution and then to put that solution through many tests such as pH, alkalinity (yes I used to think this was the same thing too :), Calcium concentration, and freeze drying.  Some equipment works just like on land – titrations, computers, and mixers but others are unique on a ship such as a gimbal for the balances (don’t look at it too long or your eyes will spin 🙂  It is clear that the technicians play a large role in collecting the reams of data necessary to understand what is happening at the ocean floor and sea water interface as well as the sea water and atmosphere interface.  The past IS the big clue to the future.  How will the added carbon dioxide being absorbed by the ocean be buffered by the calcium in the water and sediments?  What role do bacteria and foraminiferans play in the natural and human influenced processes on planet earth?  Why does deep sea sediments look like chocolate?