Props to Phys Props

This entry is written by Debbie Thomas, co-chief scientist of Expedition 378. It comes from her Expedition 378 Odyssey blog, which can be found here.

If you are keeping track of my inconsistently staged series We Finally Have CORE! Now What?! series, this would be Part 3, I think. Wait. There was Part 1, then Let’s Split, and after that was Better Drilling Through Chemistry…oh, sorry, this is Part 4. Don’t judge. It is all we can do to keep track of what day it is.

In Part 4 of the carefully curated series on the precisely choreographed core flow in the science labs of the JR, we will explore the exploits of the oft sung, but oft unsung heroes of the Physical Properties lab. Affectionately known as Phys Props, this gang of four generates the crucial first sets of data that lay the foundation for our real-time drilling decisions and later post-cruise sampling plans. Meet our day shifters, Alex and Gabby, hard at work while everyone watches:

Two scientists standing in a corridor lined with lab equipment. One of the scientists, Alex Reis, is grinning at the camera and gesturing towards a computer screen with data readouts on it. The other scientist, Gabby Kitch, is looking at Alex and smiling.
Alex and Gabby proudly show the results of their fine-tuning the whole-round core x-ray scanner. The results of that diligence appear later in this post…..Fun fact about Alex – he and I both have roots in the Cincinnati area and we both desperately await the NFL draft.

And the night shifters, Elizabeth and Heather:

A scientist, Elizabeth Sibert, with her arms above her head, pulling a core out of a rack. She is looking up at the core, which is grey in color.
Elizabeth playing above her height to load the next whole-round core section onto the Whole-round Multisensor Logger to obtain crucial, non-destructive data about the composition of the sediments. This data informs our correlator, helping match up cores from one hole to another.
A scientist, Heather Jones, standing in a corridor lined with lab equipment. She is using a handheld barcode reader to scan something we can't see. There is a neutral expression on her face.
Heather scans the id of the core section prior to initiating the WRMSL sequence. The data automatically upload to our shipboard database for everyone to access. WRMSL gives us gamma ray attenuation, magnetic susceptibility, and compressional wave velocity.

In addition to ensuring the timely and accurate analysis of the whole-round through the X-Ray scanner, Whole-Round Multisensor Logger (WRMSL, pronounced wormsil), and the Natural Gamma Radiation Logger (NGRL), the Phys Props team coordinates additional track analysis and some discrete sampling once the cores have been split.

A scientist, Gabby Kitch, stands at the working table with several section halves of core. She is smiling and pressing a small black device, a shear strength tester, into a core. The cores are very light grey in color.
Gabby measuring shear strength (the sediment’s, not her own) at the working-half sampling table.

I need to pause with a news flash – a tray of bananas just appeared in the galley, so go grab one before they are gone. Lisa and Laurel may be hoarding them…

Now we return to Part 3, I mean Part 4. In addition to taking discrete samples for moisture and density (which gives us the ability to calculate density, water content, porosity and grain density of the sediments), and measuring shear strength (when the sediment is sufficiently soft), the PP team assesses P-wave (compressional wave) velocity on the split core.

Gabby Kitch standing at a large instrument on a track. She is looking down at the core on the track and placing a layer of cling film on top of the core. There is neutral expression on her face.
Gabby positioning the split working-half for P-wave analysis.
A few scientists standing around a table with core halves set on it. A scientist, Gabby Kitch, is looking at someone off-frame with a slight smile. Another scientist, Laura Haynes, is looking down at the core. Alex Reis is slightly in the background, holding his glasses in his hands and looking down. There are a few other scientists partially in frame and looking at the core.
All the day-shift sedimentologists were eager to help Alex and Gabby find the best sample for MAD analysis on this particularly fascinating core.

The physical properties corridor of the lab, lined with lab equipment. Alex, Gabby, and Elizabeth are in the background and smiling at the camera. Alex is giving the camera a thumbs up. Heather Jones is in the foreground, waving to the camera with a large, open-mouthed smile on her face.
A rare glimpse of all four PP’ers at the same time – this shot during our shift cross-over features Heather front and center as opposed to her usual stealth appearances in the background 😉

I heart Phys Props…

An X-ray image of a core. There are two sections of core at the top and bottom, and one small chunk in the middle. The X-ray is unremarkable except for a dark spot in the broken piece, in the perfect shape of a heart symbol. The label denotes this as core U1553C-18R-2.
The irony of chert in a whole-round x-ray image. Chert is not a loving lithology.
Until the next time,

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