Why Are We Here?

We are still transiting from Tahiti to our first drill site. The captain says we should be there in two days (Saturday) and we should have our first core on deck sometime Sunday morning. The seas are quite calm this morning and the air is warm. As can be expected, activity is beginning to pick up around the drill floor area of the ship.
Today I’d like to add a few more details to what the science is about. As I previously mentioned, the focus of Expedition 329 is the microbial life found in the deep sea sediments of the South Pacific Gyre. All living things need to obtain energy from somewhere in order to survive. Very little organic material from the surface accumulates in the seafloor sediments in this region. This is because upwelling is essentially non-existent here. Upwelling brings nutrient rich water to the surface in many parts of the ocean and provides food so that organisms can thrive. So scientists are asking questions such as: What types of microbes live in the sediments? How do they obtain their food or energy? Does the amount of life (biomass) vary as you do deeper into the sediments?
Tomorrow, I’ll discuss some of the ideas that scientists on board are testing on Expedition 329 to try and find the answers to these questions.