Ahoy shipmates!

Welcome to IODP Expedition 353!

I’m spending the next 56 days aboard the drill ship JOIDES Resolution (@TheJR), taking part in a major multi-disciplinary expedition to sample the unexplored depths of the Bay of Bengal, northern Indian Ocean.


The Indian Monsoon is responsible for providing fresh water for over a billion people so it’s really important to understand how it might respond to future climate change. Our major goal on Exp. 353 is to try to understand the evolution of the Monsoon, and ancient climate in the region more generally, over the Late Cretaceous to the Holocene (about 75 million years to now). During this time big changes occurred in global climate, accompanied by the birth of the huge Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau formed from the collision of India with Asia; both of which probably influenced the behavior of the monsoons over time.

To do this, we’re essentially going to drill some big holes into the seafloor around the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, through several 1000 meters of seawater, to recover deep-sea sediment that records the history of the region like a ticker-tape.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 9.07.52 PM

During this time I’m going to be working as a shipboard “sedimentologist”, (which is just a fancy way of saying “person who looks at mud all day and likes it”). I’m also going to be keeping this blog to try and explain how an IODP expedition works, how we’re getting along, and what life is really like on a drill ship in the middle of the ocean.

Some questions I’ve had that I will try to answer over the next two months:

  • How big is your boat?
  • Do you have a swimming pool?
  • Who does your washing?
  • What does a sedimentologist actually do?
  • What do you mean you don’t get weekends??
  • What is a microfossil?
  • How can mud tell you about monsoons?

…..and many more!

So stay tuned for more updates and photos. Post any burning (or not so burning) questions below or on Twitter (@Kate_Littler), and I’ll do my best to answer them!

Toodlepip – Kate



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