Getting on the JOIDES Resolution

I woke up early, finished packing, and left my hotel room in anticipation of seeing the research vessel, JOIDES Resolution for the first time in nearly five years.  Upon checking out many of the scientists walked out of our beautiful hotel called The Commodore Hotel to enjoy the sun’s rays on our faces for the first time in over a week for me (since we all had to quarantine to make sure we did not have covid).

This is the hotel room I stayed in during my quarantine, with all my bags packed and ready to go.

IODP had arranged a nice coach bus for us that took us through the port and after maneuvering through the port, when I finally saw the ship, I was overwhelmed once again with awe by its immense size and grandeur.  Rising up over 200 feet stood the drilling derrick sitting on a ship nearly 500 feet long, equivalent to over one and a half football fields long!  Above us, soared the upper decks, and various cranes busily loading crates and boxes of all types of equipment and stores we will need during our voyage. The drilling derrick was behind all these exciting movements; an imposing edifice that was as tall as a twenty-story skyscraper.  Everyone who got out with me looked up in amazement at our new home for the next eight weeks. 

Here are most of the scientists boarding the ship. What a moment for everyone!

For me, it felt like the first episode of nearly every Star Trek series, in which one of the cast members is heading for the ship by shuttlecraft and then is amazed when they first see it.  Indeed, this research vessel is the 21st century equivalent of those futuristic starships as we are from countries around the world and we are all enthralled with exploring and making amazing discoveries on our own planet.  The overwhelming feelings that one gets when an amazing lifetime adventure is close at hand was permeating my soul.  I guess I would describe feeling it as enthusiastic magic.

I quickly made my way up the gangplank and suddenly, it was official, the start of the IODP Expedition 393 expedition had indeed begun.  I was greeted by a person who escorted us to our room where I quickly dumped my stuff in my sleeping quarters.  The room was surprisingly spacious for being on a research vessel, however, for me, the purpose was to sleep there and enjoy and seize the adventures that lie upstairs.  I began to revisit many of the places that brought back magical memories of the previous three times I took part in oceanic expeditions on the JOIDES Resolution.  I walked into the core lab and even though I had worked there for nearly six months of my life (I was part of three 2-month long expeditions), I was still amazed by it.  It truly looks like something out of a Star Trek episode.  State-of-the-art computers and programs for the scientists to log the data they acquire and observe.  The latest high-tech instrumentation to gather the data from the sedimentary and rock cores.  Just WOW!

This is the core lab where I will spend nearly 12 hours a day seven days a week for the next 7 seven weeks. I can hardly wait for the opportunity to be part of discoveries once again.

I then went up to the bow of the ship, which is my favorite place to gaze out at the sea when we are in the middle of the ocean.

The bow of the JR. MY favorite place to watch the sea.

Also to bring back more of the great memories of the previous three expeditions in the center stairway are the logos from every expedition that took place on the JOIDES Resolution and I found the logos from the three previous expeditions I was on.  It melted my soul as I relived some of the magical times I had on this research vessel.

These are the logos created for each of the four expeditions I have been aboard the JOIDES Resolution. The upper left is from 2000 when we figured out the timing of the opening of the seaway between Antarctica and Australia. The upper right is the Antarctic expedition. The logo on the lower left is from the Zealandia expedition and the lower right is Expedition 393.

The day ended with a few of the scientists watching the sunset at the bow of the ship.  The magic of the colors is just a mere prelude as this newest adventure is about to begin.

My first sunset for IODP Expedition 393.






Stephen Pekar
Stephen Pekar, a geology professor at Queens College, has been investigating past climate and oceanographic changes during times (16- 45 million years ago) when CO2 was as high as what is predicted for this century (500-1000 ppm). As CO2 is rising rapidly today, which is predicted to be like putting our climate on a “hot plate”, exploring these times for him is like “Looking Back to Our Future”. To investigate climate change of the past, he looks at sediments, microfossil, and geochemical data obtained from cores obtained from near-shore to deep-sea locations ranging from the tropics to Antarctica. His research has taken him on expeditions around the world, including four to Antarctica, one of which he was the project leader. Professor Pekar is a Queens native, growing up in the Rockaways and attending Queens College, first as a 20th-century music composition major, but ended up studying Geology and getting his Ph.D. at Rutgers University and doing a Post Doctoral Research at Columbia University. He is enthralled and in love with exploring and discovering new places, cultures, and ideas. He has traveled to all eight continents (including the newly named eighth continent called Zealandia) and has explored over 60 countries, working in six of them ranging from archeology in France, grape picking in Germany, movie extra in China, to house pianist in a restaurant in Israel. His favorite place has been Antarctica, as it is the most remote place on Earth and for him going there to conduct research is like going to another planet and exploring undiscovered country.
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JOIDES Resolution