Just as most scientists, geologists spend most of their working time in front of a computer (i.e., the hard place) – sometimes interrupted by some time in the lab, depending on your specialty. The best thing about Geology though is that we have to go into the field or on research cruises like this one, to study deposits and landscapes under water and on land. As hard as that might be to understand to “normal people”, we relish these opportunities to look at rocks! Like detectives analysing their evidences, we can use rocks to decipher the history of a formation and learn about the dynamics of our fascinating planet. And, after all, our campaigns often take us to wild, exotic and special places.
That fascination for rocks drives scientific participants of Expedition 376 to the “catwalk” again and again, where they wait to retrieve the core, excited like children on Christmas eve. And that makes it even harder if the barrel then turns out to be empty. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to us during drilling of our first hole. From the about 100 m that we drilled into the ocean floor, only about 1.3 m of rock were recovered! We have now started our second hole, but are currently experiencing technical difficulties, so we haven’t heard those magical words “core on deck” in a long time.
So, what have we been doing? Unfortunately, even on board we have to spent a lot of time in the hard place. The core description program and the labs need to be prepared and many reports need to be written, even at this stage. The good thing is that we are at a good stage with our writing now and are well prepared for the next core! Also, we have done all the ship-board analysis we possibly could – as one of our scientists pointed out “this will probably be the most studied metre of rock in history”.
We also had some visitors: five birds seeked shelter from a storm on the JOIDES. They were provided with a nice private spot, water and a selection of food. “Scout” and “Jonathan” already took off again, the three others are still enjoying the catering on board. On that note, a big thank you to all the magical elves on board that provide us with food and clean cabins and even do our laundry!
In the past, Brothers volcano has always given expeditions a hard time at the beginning. So now we have to cross our fingers that he will be a bit more generous in the future and reveals some of his secrets!