Thursday, September 12, 2013

More Cores

We have been very busy. I expect it will slow down some, because (as
of yesterday) we have twelve days of transit time to Manila if we go
without stopping, so we can't keep coring at this pace and still get
home before Thanksgiving. I was out on deck almost right after my
shift started yesterday deploying the whole suite (multicore, gravity
core, and piston core) over about 8 hours. It was very hot, and when
we work on deck we have to wear life vests and hard hats, so we were
all sweating buckets. I think I drank 5 liters of water before dinner.
There are only a few core techs on board, so those of us in the
science party spend a lot of time helping to put the cores together.
We have to assemble the liners, cut them to the right length, label
them, rivet on the core cutter (the sharp thing on the end that slices
through the sediment) and the core catcher (interlocking fingers
inside the core tube that hold the mud in), bolt on the end cap with
all the weights, attach it to a crane and use guide ropes to keep it
level as it goes in the water. When it comes up we have to do all that
in reverse, then siphon the water off the top, cut it into 150 cm
sections, cap each section, and then ready the next core. The piston
core, which is 40' long, requires some extra work to get into it's
launcher, and lots of work to extrude it when it comes back up. So we
worked from 1pm until 10, pausing to wolf down dinner (chicken and
noodles, which I ate covered in soy sauce and salt to replenish some
electrolytes) around 5:30. Yesterday, after an equally long shift, I
went out on the fantail after we'd gotten underway and turned off all
the lights (the bridge likes it dark when we're moving) and after my
eyes adjusted saw a sky full of stars, with the milky way especially
bright, shooting stars, a distant thunderstorm, and bio-luminescent
algae in our wake, popping up like fireflies and swirling around in
the baffles before flying off astern. It was amazing. We stood out
there for about 45 minutes until the flood lights came on and the
midnight to noon shift had to get to work. That was probably a good
thing, because I could have stood there until the sun came up.

Posted by Chris