Questons Beget Questions
Science is all about asking questions in the pursuit of discovery and the scientists aboard the JOIDES Resolution are doing exactly that. What can ancient dusk, settled beneath the ocean floor tell us about the Earth's climate? What can the chloride levels of ancient water trapped within sediment tell us about the history of glacial melts? If we can feel an earthquake on the other side of the globe with a sensor stuck 1000 feet into the ground...what else could we feel?
Today I sat with Earl Davis, the scientist who designed the CORK that is being inserted into the ocean floor on this expedition. It is an instrument that measures the temperature and pressure changes caused by the movement of the Earth's tectonic plates. The CORK will provide valuable insight into earthquakes and tsunamis, and the better we understand these phenomena, the better we will be able to prepare for them in the future.
While Earl and the other scientists were testing the CORK under the pressure of tap water, they noticed that the measurement reading were showing slight oscillations...up and down, up and down, up and down. This puzzled them initially until they realized that these readings were being caused by the ship rocking back and forth due to ocean waves. This discovery lead to new questions. Could a cork be used on the surface of the ocean floor to detect slight movements of the ground? Would we be able to see patterns? Would those patterns match the data from a CORK within the seafloor?
The excitement on Earl's face was filled with curiosity. It reminded me that scientists are just big kids with inquisitive minds that ask "why?" The only difference is that they've never stopped asking why, and in the process, built up a wealth of knowledge to help them find the answers.