Now that the core has been correlated, and we’re sure we have a complete column all the way down, we’ll follow a section along the rest of its rounds. First it needs to go to the contraption that I liken to a giant cheese slicer – it slices the whole round into its two sections, the working half and the archive half. [Note: please ignore the fact that these caps are from different sections – there was too much going on in the lab and it was not possible to find the two caps that matched. The point I’m illustrating here with the photo is that the working halves are always black capped, and the archival halves are always red capped.]
The archive half doesn’t get boxed up right away, there are plenty of stations for it to pass through as well. We’ll get to those starting tomorrow, but for today we’ll look at the working half.
The working half is exactly that – it gets worked! Every scientist takes some samples at various intervals depending upon what their role is, what they are researching, and what they are capable of processing while on board. The archivist keeps track of it all and sets up a schedule before getting on site so that no one gets in the way of anyone else. Some samples are taken with scoops, some with square plugs, others with small cylinders, bigger cylinders, even toothpicks.After all the samples have been taken, the holes get plugged up with bits of appropriately sized styrofoam (we don’t want to change the shape of the sediment layers), and the section gets wrapped in saran wrap, put in its hard plastic storage container, and boxed up to be eventually shipped to Texas for the “sampling party”. This is when about one month after returning to land, all the scientists will get together and finish taking samples from the working halves to continue their research. Ship samples are limited to what they can physically process in the time at sea, and tend to be geared mostly towards age verification. The major analysis gets done on land in the years to come.