This is the second part of Sev’s documentation of the daily process of a foram paleontologist on board the JR. He specializes in benthic (bottom dwelling) forams.
The aim of the analysis is to identify the species present, estimate how abundant they are, and provide some kind of ecological and geological age information. A lot of time is spent on the microscope during the 12 hr shift, and also a lot of time frantically racing through books and online journals to identify unknown species and their ecological significance. One of the main pieces of information the forams provide is deep sea oxygen and nutrient levels, which is intimately linked to oceanography and climate.
When we are coring, samples come up too quickly to keep up with analysis and we invariably fall behind on the microscope work. The days are usually spent looking forward to those moments coring stops and we can race through some microscope samples uninterrupted. Unfortunately coring usually stops when there is a problem and we are often left with that mixed feeling of relief and anxiety!
Next time Sev will explore the discoveries found in a typical day of a foram specialist.