Beneath the Surface: A Glimpse into Our Internship in Marine Research

Sunset over the Kiel Kanal from the Holtenauer Hochbrücke. Foto by Rania and Mèlanie

Hello dear readers! We are Rania and Mélanie, two 21 year old students studying geophysics at l’École et l’Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre in Strasbourg, France. We took our first step into the world of internships this summer at GEOMAR and we’re happy to share this experience with you! Strasbourg being far from any ocean or sea and our school not covering the subject of ocean geophysics, it could be understandable to wonder how we ended up in GEOMAR in the department of ocean geodynamics. Well, we always had in mind to do something linked with the ocean at some point, so it was a great opportunity for us to come here and see what it could be like to work in an ocean related field. Of course, one of the main purposes of this internship was to discover the world of research and this objective was perfectly fulfilled thanks to everyone we met at GEOMAR and especially the team of the pre-collapse project.

Over the course of our two months in Kiel, we had the opportunity to delve into the world of geophysics offshore Mount Etna. Our days were dedicated to the task of displaying and deciphering marine geodetic data from a network of transponders located at the Alfeo fault. It was very interesting to work on actual data and to learn how to analyze them. We were really thrilled to be able to be part of a project like this one. While analyzing two different sets of data, we were able, for one, to detect a variation that wasn’t connected to a deformation of the seafloor but to what we think could be a variation of the salinity in the water column and for the other one we were able to detect a movement in the baselines that corresponds to a fault movement.

Everything we worked on during our internship was very new for us and very interesting. For my [Mélanie] part, I learned a lot about my computer skills and I really enjoyed it. I also was really interested in the subject and thought the world of research seems very difficult and fascinating and I am not sure what I will be doing at the end of my studies. It was nice to learn about this option by meeting so many cool researchers and learning about their projects. For me [Rania], I really enjoyed working with Python because informatics is something I really like and have fun with. Spending time with researchers during my internship was really cool, too. I got to see how they work and learn new things every day. But, I think being a full-time researcher might not be my thing. It’s not that I didn’t like it – I did. It’s just that being a researcher means you’re always busy, your mind is always thinking about work. I’ve enjoyed seeing what researchers do, but I’m more interested in finding a path where I can be creative and passionate in a different way. Still, I think researchers are really awesome for the hard work they do, and I’ll always respect that.

We have met a lot of very nice people with whom we had a lot of funny discussions during our lunch breaks and who were very passionate and always happy to talk about their research. We also had the chance to have Séverine Furst as our tutor for our internship. She taught us a lot of new things and she is a very inspiring woman who gave us a very nice first experience of the research world.

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