(Blog posted for Sandra Passchier. Originally posted at: http://msuinantarctica.blogspot.com/)
We have been drilling down hundreds of meters into the seafloor and we have been processing a lot of core. At the moment we are waiting on ice, so time for another blog post.
Imagine you are staying at your work, school or university building for two months without the ability to run to a store and shop. Your friends and colleagues are with you, but not your family. When you look out of the window you see the most beautiful scenery with icebergs and when you step out on the balcony you can sometimes observe the breathing spouts of a group of humpback whales. That is what it is like to be on the JOIDES Resolution in the Amundsen Sea near Antarctica, but our balcony is the deck and we are a long way from home.
We are a total of around 120 people who work different shifts. We are drillers, scientists, operation managers, laboratory techs, engineers, ship navigators, ice watchers, artists, educators and human services personnel, etc., and we all have an equally important part in this whole operation. The nightshift works from midnight to noon and has breakfast, lunch and dinner together at odd times. We also celebrate birthdays: here a picture of Thomas the nightshift paleomagnetist on his birthday last week (photo from Tim Fulton). There was a really nice cake and it was a joyful celebration.
Today we learned from Steve, the chief steward, about the 15 people who keep us happy and allow us to do work 12 hours each day. They do an excellent job preparing and serving our food, doing our laundry and cleaning our rooms and common areas. We also learned from Steve how much planning goes into a shipboard expedition with 120 people with no opportunity to shop for food for two months. You can bring bananas for the first week, but after one week bananas go bad so you need to come up with some other fresh fruit for people to eat the remaining 7 weeks. In his food purchase for two months, Steve makes an educated guess about what kind of food people might like and takes into account that in Antarctica people eat more food to keep warm, especially those who work outside.
Apples and pears can last pretty long and we still have them along with slices of cantaloupe, but the fresh pineapple chunks had been extremely popular after the bananas had disappeared. Unfortunately, the last couple of days we noticed a decline in the pineapples among the cut fruit and we began to worry. Luckily, today as Steve took the nightshift lab folks on a tour of the kitchen and food stores, we could see with our own eyes that we still have pineapples! (I also found out that my cabin is across from the store room with the Oreo cookies in it, but the door has a pad lock on it….) By now most of the fresh vegetables we are served are hardy ones, like carrots and cabbage. But today we had hamburgers with fresh tomato slices! That is pretty amazing, considering that we left port a month ago. We are taken care of really well, thanks to Steve and his team.