We are now three days into our transit down to Antarctica. The highlight of the second day was the obligatory boat drill. After we had a briefing from the captain on the first day, we used this drill to identify the location of our life boats and escape routes. We all had to come equipped with our life vests and hard heads, and had to then try on our survival suites. These gumby suites are water proof and float in water – they may safe our lives for a considerable amount of time if we ever have to abandon the ship. The exercise of trying them on however is one of the most entertaining bits on research expeditions. They are very awkward to put on and even harder to get off. In the picture you can see one of my colleagues in his suite. I am sure that a video of the event will follow soon. ..
In the late hours of Sunday we started hitting rougher seas. I personally love lying down in my bunk bed and being rocked into sleep by the movement of the ship! However some of my colleagues had a hard time on Monday, and the doctor on the ship was busy with giving out medication against sea-sickness. We are currently in the 40s (latitudes south of 40°S), and the conditions will probably get worth tomorrow while heading further south.
We are still spending most of our time with learning the specifics of our jobs here at sea. Each individual scientist on this cruise has their own scientific goals, but as a team we will work to accomplish the overall scientific objectives of the expedition (http://publications.iodp.org/scientific_prospectus/318/index.html). This involves a lot of hands on steps. While the actual drilling is done by the experienced ship’s crew, the opening and first sampling of the core is done by ship technicians with the help of scientists. After careful labeling the individual sections of recovered drill core are brought inside the ship and split into a working half and an archive half. The archive half is processed through a digital imaging system and then carefully described by the sedimentologists (i.e., how much mud there is, how much sand there is, whether we find dropstones from icebergs, etc). Palaeontologists at the same time look at the various microorganisms found in the cores and palaeomagnetists measure the magnetic properties. Parts of the newly recovered core are also subject to destructive analyses, which we do right here out at sea. Our ship is a big floating laboratory, but I will write more about this aspect when we have retrieved the first drill core.
Below (on special request) a little video of the ‘rolling ocean’. I will upload another video when it gets rougher so that you can get an impression of what it is like out at sea on the JOIDES Resolution!