It seems like we’re always waving goodbye to good ole’ Colombo, Sri Lanka. This is the third time here for most of us but just a quick port call sent us off on our scientific mission. We still have about 24 more hours until hitting our drill site but we’ve been busy prepping the labs and the scientists are finalizing their research plans. Once the ship was safely away from boat traffic I got to help our engineering technician deploy the magnetometer, affectionately called The Maggie. The Maggie hangs off the stern of the ship from a 450m long cable that transmits a live feed back to our lab and we can read the depth of the seafloor, the depth the Maggie itself in the water, temperature, and most importantly the magnetic field all from the part that I am hanging onto called the towfish. Instruments just like this one are what have supplied scientists with data to prove that seafloor spreading happens and track the movement of tectonic plates via magnetic anomalies. From the Maggie’s point of view the seafloor looks like the keys of a piano, with bars of positive and negative signals. The JR routinely deploys the device and collects information to add to the global bank of oceanographic data.
I also got to help paint the floor in our refrigerated hold where we keep all the cores we collect cozy at a nice 14 degrees Celsius. However, my assistant lab officer Lisa sadly wouldn’t let me spray paint my name on the floor before we painted over it.