Once the samples have been taken from the working half, and the archive halves of the core have been described, they have to be packed and stored so they will be ready to ship when we reach port.
All of the sample storage on board involves refrigerated storage. The cores and samples taken at the sampling table are stored in the refrigerated cold storage in the very bottom of the hold of the ship. This hold has 26,250 square feet of core storage. It can hold more than 5700 cores. This hold is kept at a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius, which is about 39 degrees Farenheit. The temperature is not freezing, but very close to it.
All of the materials in the storage hold are labeled and boxes and sorted so that when we get to port, the samples can be shipped to the respective scientists, and the cores themselves can be shipped to the core repository at College Station.
The Curator and the Lab Officers do an excellent job of keeping this curation and storage going while we are coring. We will only have a 24 time period between our last core and our arrival in Wellington, so they have to make sure that they stay on top of this process and keep it caught up so that all is ready when we arrive in port.
Curator Lara Miles – boxing some samples
Some of the samples have to be stored at even colder temperatures. There are freezers on board that are maintained at -20 degrees Celsius and -80 degrees Celsius. These freezers are mainly used for storing geochemical and microbiological samples. These samples are maintained well below freezing so there is no chance of microbial activity in the sample. It maintains the sample as close as possible to the exact conditions when it came out of the hole, like freezing a snapshot in time.
This is just one more piece in the huge puzzle that is and expedition on the JR. So many pieces have to fit together perfectly for the expedition to be a success and to reach the goals. No wonder it takes 126 people to make it happen!