I think I will break up the physical properties into their regions within the lab. At some point I will go back to the very beginning – the laying of the pipe and bringing the core on deck and into the lab. However, since I started out with a couple of the science departments, the rest of the scientists are wondering when I will get to them. So for now, we will follow the core along its path inside the lab.
Each core is 9.5m long, and it gets chopped into seven sections. Generally they are each 1.5m long, with the last (the deepest, oldest, the core catcher section) being smaller. These whole, round cores get labeled very specifically – site number, hole letter (because we drill at least 3 holes at every site), core number, and section number. It’s kind of like a concert ticket, where you have the show you are seeing, your section, your row, and finally your seat. However, these cores get labeled a multiple of times. There’s one label for the working half (with a ‘W’ and all the rest), one label for the archive half (with an ‘A’), and finally it gets a laser engraved label because stick on labels can fall off over time.
The cores then get put through a couple of sensor machines with really wonderful names. There’s the WRMSL (pronounced “wormzal”) that is the Whole Round Multi Sensor Logger, and the STMSL (pronounced “stemzal”) that is the Special Task Multi Sensor Logger. These machines measure the density, magnetic susceptibility, and the p-wave velocity of the sediment at incremental distances along its length.
[Note for those who may have forgotten their high school physics; p-waves are the primary waves in a seismic event. They are the ones that travel horizontally through material, pushing each particle in front of the last. This is opposed to the s- or secondary waves, which are the ones that travel transversely across material, lifting the particles as they pass and making the big cracks in the earth that people associate with earthquakes.]
All this data is designed to help identify the specific sediment material in a fairly quick-and-dirty fashion, so that it can be graphically organized and turned over to the stratigraphic correlators, whom we will visit tomorrow. (Note: the changes in the readings of these sensors are related to climate cycles.)