We should be arriving at our last drilling location tomorrow morning. There has been a lot of activity in the past 24 hours, both in the labs and with scientists packing up samples for shipment to their respective universities. Many sediment cores were retrieved at our most recent site and that has meant a lot of analysis work needs to get done before the next batch comes aboard.
Several of the microbiologists, Jill Lynch (Australia) and Tim Engelhardt (Germany), were working in a glove box yesterday. The box is purged of oxygen, and an atmosphere of nitrogen and hydrogen is enclosed. This is so that the microbes will not be exposed to oxygen, which is lacking on the deep ocean floor. It is quite challenging to work with the sediment samples, in a glove box, and in a refrigerated room.