Live from Anywhere in the Ocean

I wrote this little piece to set the stage for a grant proposal I’ve been working on.  I kind of like it and I thought that you might like it, too.

At 1630, a voice breaks through the drone of the thrusters to announce the sighting of an Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) off the port amidships. All the scientists, teachers and illustrators who can leave their work do, grabbing sweaters and cameras on their way outdoors. It’s one of many moments of excitement shared by this seemingly odd blend of 117 individuals with varied skills and talents that, after ten days at sea, is becoming a team.
The ship’s manifest reveals they’ve left family and friends in 12 countries (IODP is comprised of 25 member nations). They will sail together without making port for 59 days. Their current mission aboard the world-class JR is focused on the hydrogeology of the ocean’s crust and includes the stuff of science fiction – giant CORKs in the seafloor packed with instruments capable of measuring pressure and temperature as deep as 675 meters below, ingenious osmosamplers that employ the basic principles first learned in high school chemistry to sample formation (crustal) water for years to come, and substrates specially made to attract unknown microbes of the deep biosphere. This is IODP Expedition 327, Juan de Fuca Hydrogeology. This is the place and these are the people who can best interpret earth science and technology in the making – live from anywhere in any ocean.
These are photos of our outreach group’s activities this week.  That’s Beth Orcutt at the top, teaching us about microbes and how she samples them in the deep biosphere.  Next you see Jean Marie Gautier, Brigitte Thiberge, and Stephanie Keske describing core, followed by Jackie Kane and Dinah Bowman practicing visual core description (including drawings, of course).  All photos by IODP Imaging Specialist Bill Crawford.


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