Life on the JR
It has been over a week since we have left Wellington. It is hard to believe that so much time has past as the last week has been seemingly gone by quite quickly.
Last evening I switched over to my shift, which is from midnight to noon. I have been looking forward to going on shift as my room will become just my room for 12 hours and the other 12 hours will be my roommate’s. So I popped a sleeping pill, crashed around 5:30 and woke up around midnight. It ended up being a bit difficult to make it through the night and morn though.
Late on the 18th (today) we should be arriving at the first drilling site WLSHE-09B. This site will recover sedimentary cores across the greenhouse world to icehouse world at 34 million year ago. We also hope to drill deep into the greenhouse world, which will allow us to glimpse into what Antarctica was like when the Earth was much warmer than today.
Daily life on the JR - Until now, life on board has been filled with getting up to speed on the schedule of the ship, learning how we will collect our data and how we will write up our results. A day begins with the buzzer going off in my upper bunk. The room is small for one person and even more cramped for two. This will change once I am on shift. The two of us share a bathroom with the next cabin, but have our sink in our room.
Maneuvering through the corridors and up one flight of relatively steep steps from by room is the galley.
It is a relatively spacious place, with on your left as you walk in, all of the conveniences one would expect from a cafeteria style place: an ice cream machine, dessert display refrigerated case, soda machines, coffee, toaster.
Tables for about 40-50 people await me as well as a person that will heap lots of food on a plate for you. There are always a few choices and so far, I have always found something that I like. For the moment, we also have a salad and cold cut bar, with fresh fruit. But all of the fruits and fresh salads will slowly disappear in the coming weeks. Above the galley are the conference room and the chemistry labs. I am located in the paleo lab, which is above the conference rooms. We also share the floor with the sedimentology labs, physical properties and the down hole loggers. Right now everyone is waiting around, preparing and anxious about getting the first core on deck.
We have one shot at getting this right and we want to maximize every opportunity to move science forward. We will also be taking only one core from each site. At many ocean drilling sites, more than one core is taken so we have overlaps where recovery is not 100%. But because of the difficult nature of the taking the sediments and time constraints, we will be only to drill once at each site. This makes the cores extremely valuable and so the co chiefs have decided that only samples needed for ephemeral studies (studies where the data collected will degrade immediately after the core is brought up to the surface) and other critically needed data (studies for telling how old the sediments are) will be taken. I think this is a great idea as we do not know what we will be getting and there is no use in taking samples if they up not being used or end up not being useful. These discussions and other ones at meetings drive home the point of how precious and important these cores and this expedition are for the science community and for understanding climate change of the past.