Paleo-Fashion and the Green Stuff

At today’s noon crossover meeting, representatives from each of the scientific teams presented findings from the past 24-hours to each other. It’s normally a laid-back affair, an information exchange between shifts, sometimes with a couple provocative questions peppered in.

Today, however, there was no small debate about the green stuff.

The ~70-million-year-old cores coming up from 660 meters below the sea floor are gorgeous shades that might (unscientifically) be described as an amalgam of olive, avocado, khaki, teal, jade and turquoise.

Some at the meeting ventured these cores contain glauconite. Others argued chlorite. “It’s just reduced iron,” one said.

The paleomagnetists reported that their analyses of the green stuff “look weird,” with output that appears like windshield wipers going back and forth.

Even on a ship full of folks who live and breathe rocks—which, of course, are made up of minerals—the true nature of the green stuff will remain a mystery until it undergoes X-ray diffraction (XRD), a technique that gives details about the main mineral phases of a sample.

“The universal consensus is, nobody likes ‘em,” piped up sedimentologist Don Penman, attempting to put the issue of the green cores to rest until XRD results are in.

Not so fast, Don.

“I think they’re beautiful,” said Kelsey Doiron, an organic chemist who’s hoping hard, with fingers crossed, that the dark matter within the green cores is organic material.

At least four on-trend others also are admirers of the enigmatic cores: sedimentologist Hayley Cawthra, thin-section lab specialist Luan Heywood, micropaleontologist Jason Coenen and igneous petrologist Peter Davidson.

All just so happen to be color coordinated today, with each other, and the green stuff.

Coincidence? Maybe . . .

“I dress stratigraphically,” explained Hayley, ever fashion-forward. “Whatever appears on the top of my pile of clothes is what I put on.”

Maryalice Yakutchik
I am a longtime science writer/multimedia journalist working independently again after 14 years with Johns Hopkins where I specialized in global health, public health and the basic sciences. Prior to that, I freelanced for newspapers, magazines and websites; notably, the Discovery Channel ( where, as a globe-trotting expeditions correspondent, I covered everything from humpback whale genetics in Madagascar and body art in Morocco to wolf conservation in Italy, as well as research on rattlesnakes in Aruba and spectacled bears in Peru. Eons ago, after journalism school at Temple University (go Owls!), I spent 11 years as a reporter at the Reading Eagle, honing my craft as I wrote the daily mushroom report and descriptions of the Pet of the Week (all of whom got adopted, by the way).
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