After an Expedition total of 755 cores, and a total of 4751.8 meters cored and 4171.4 meters recovered [88% recovery!], the last core arrives at 4 in the morning and is received with cheerful ceremony. The reception committee is ready!
Everyone has been dreaming about this moment, and now it has arrived!
And now it is official: End of Hole, End of site, End of Cruise!
Although the labs still have a day or two of work to finish processing the backed up cores, the mood is much lighter. Even much-suffering sedimentologists are laughing again. Ivano and Swanne notice that their clothing is perfectly color-coordinated with the ochre-to-gray sediments that they have on the core description table; Ivano holds up a page from the Munson color chart book (the official color reference) to prove the point.
Life will be good again!
Several familiar procedures in the morning mark more “lasts”: The last sample allocation meeting at the core table… Myriam has placed her sampling plugs for analyzing iron phases with different magnetic properties across the methane/sulfate interface of the hydrate core.
And then the sample allocation meeting moves into the core splitting lab to haggle over the final sills of Ringvent (a.k.a. “the rock bazar”)… while technicians Peter Flaming and Michael Bollen continue splitting the last sediment cores. But it will be over soon.
And not to forget, the last Sunday BBQ. It is overcast and soon it will rain. We are trying to smile but look somewhat uncertain at the same time, like hardened prisoners who have just been released and don’t know yet what to do with their freedom.
But a sense of what to do with life will return soon enough, and the strange unmoored feeling will go away. Many Sundays are like that…