Now that we are at our 2nd site (APT-01B), everyone is back to working at full throttle. The core is coming up approximately once an hour, and with every announcement of “core on deck, core on deck”, the cycle of data collection begins again. I’m going to cover each of the areas over the next number of days, but I’m going to start with paleontology and the microfossils since they are my favorite.
I don’t know why I like them so much. Maybe it’s for the same reason I like harvesting root vegetables over anything else at a farm; because it’s like uncovering buried treasure every time. My personal preference is for the foraminifera (forams), mostly because nannofossils are just too small (like dust) and I drink too much coffee to work with anything so small! (Here you can see Deborah uses a toothpick to collect her samples)
Regardless of whether it is a nannofossil, a diatom, or a foram, all the microfossils tell a story. Different species arose and went extinct at different points in time, so finding them in the sediment core helps distinguish the age of the core at that depth. Different species also have different environmental tolerances, so depending on which are found we can tell not only the ocean conditions at that period in time, but then the climate and conditions of nearby land masses can be inferred as well. On this expedition, that story extends over 5 million years. I think that’s just incredible!