We’re coring our last hole of our last site of our last week of expedition 356. Everyone’s a little tired and frazzled after two months at sea, away from their family and friends, with only the Pet Wall for company. And pretty soon we’ll be putting in at Darwin, celebrating, and then going our separate ways.
This might seem like an ending, but the real journey has just begun. These two months at sea have just been for collecting the data and samples. Researching them, discovering all the secrets these cores hold, is going to take years.
When we get to Darwin, the scientists are going to take a well deserved break, and the cores we’ve collected (all 5 kilometres of them!) will be shipped to the core repository at College Station, Texas. They’ll be stored there in a giant refrigerated warehouse until February, when the science party will get together for a reunion, to collect all the samples they need from the cores (they’ve already collected a few to study before then, but they’ll probably need a lot more). Then they’ll head back to their home universities, explain their boxes of mud past customs and security, and continue their research with the new luxury of time and space. Each scientist is obligated to write at least one scientific paper on the new information they’ve discovered from the expedition. But they don’t have to do it alone; by combining their work together, scientists from different fields can often come up with more interesting conclusions than they could individually. So maybe a geochemist might compare their acidity data with a palaeontologist’s foram surveys, to see how changing climate has affected wildlife in the ocean over time. Science is a collaborative process!
The blue dots are our scientists’ universities. The arrows are where our bulk cores will travel.
Once the scientists have taken the samples they need, the rest of the cores are shipped to Kochi Core Centre in Japan. They’ll be stored there until the end of time (hopefully), so that scientists can use our sediments in their research if they want. For the first year, the samples and data are under moratorium, which means that only expedition scientists are allowed to use them. But after the end of the moratorium, anyone in the world is allowed to use our data and samples for their own research!