Reading at hyper speed – if you are a geologist!

The scientists have gotten into the groove. Everyone knows their station and work flow is kicking in as jet lag dissipates and everyone gets used to the rolling seas and 12 hour shifts.

So far it has been 398.4 meters of what once was rock and now is clay, silt, and sand as well as microfossil and nannofossil ooze but no rocks…yet! The Sedimentologists are happy because they are studying sediment but for the Petrologists (scientists who study rocks) core descriptions are a little uneventful. The Petrologists did help out with our second Live Broadcast to a school in Nebraska today and shared their passion for science, and minerals, and Star Wars. The coring team had been working for 60.75 hours to retrieve the 398.4 meters of core. This means we have been averaging about 6.6 meters per hour for this deep sea coring expedition which is great timing for deep sea core yet still feels a little slow especially if you are a Petrologist.

On the other hand life for a Paleontologist (scientist who studies fossils) is passing by millions of years per hour. Last time I pestered the paleontology lab I learned they were able to determine, with the help of the Paleomagnetists (scientists who study the record of the earth’s magnetic field),  from sediment retrieved from depth of 398.4 meters  that they are looking at samples from approximately 33 million years ago. That is a long long long time ago considering humans did not show up in the geologic record until around 200,000 years ago and we have only been drilling 60.75 hours to retrieve that core. At this speed the Paleontologist are looking back through time at approximately 543,210 million years per hour!

Stay tuned! – We will go into the methods used to determine the age of these layers of sediment soon!


Photograph by Robert Kurzawski

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