Days on the JR

Mobile alarms, oh, it is already 23:20. ‘Wake up’, mind strikes and forces me to get up from the bed. After taking a shower, I prepare my backpack for the next 12-hour working shift. My roommate, who is working the opposite shift, is going to be here any time for the next twelve hours. After finishing all my morning ‘rituals’, I climb up the stairs full of enthusiasm to go to the core lab where we sedimentologists describe cores.

In the core lab, after splitting the core into two halves, the archive half comes on the core-describing table, and the working half goes to the sampling table. Allotted scientists take designated samples from the working half. The first task on the archive half is to scrape off the sediment surface gently with a stainless steel plate to make the surface smooth and visible for scientific observations. Then it is taken for high-resolution imaging and magnetic susceptibility as well as spectral reflectance measurements. After which it returns to the core-describing table for further description of the sediment. We enter information about sediment types, characteristics, structures and drilling disturbances (if there are any) in a software program called DESClogik.

On the JR we have our own small world floating on the huge water mass of the Indian Ocean. In this small world, people from different continents and cultural perspectives are living harmoniously in a cordial environment as a big JR-Bengal Fan family. Defining day and night in our JR family is quite different due to different working shifts. Every scientist works for twelve hours, from midnight to noon and from noon to midnight. In the very first days onboard, it looked very funny because at the same time one was taking dinner, another was having breakfast. As I am on midnight to noon shift, I take breakfast at midnight, lunch at six in the morning and dinner at noon. It took about a week for me to adapt to this schedule. Excellent cooks onboard prepare wide varieties of meals. As a vegetarian I am enjoying great vegetarian foods.

Now, we are in the middle of the Bengal Fan and it is already three weeks since we left Singapore and saw land the last time. After a couple of days transit we started drilling our first site MBF-6A (U1449) down to 213 meters below the seafloor – with quite good sediment recovery. We drilled deeper into the sediment at the second site MBF-2A (U1450) reaching about 690 meters below the seafloor. Now, we are drilling the third site MBF-3A (U1451) with our ambitious depth of 1500 meters below the seafloor. We all onboard are enthusiastically waiting to meet that depth of drilling in order to decipher the mystery of the Himalayan evolution, the impact of the monsoonal system on sediment supply and the development of the Bengal Fan.