Awesome sediments recovered from the Indian margin… now we’re off to the Andamans!

Howdy folks,

Time for an update on what we’ve been up to lately, as I’ve been too busy working for blog maintenance! Where to begin…?

During the first 12 days of 2015 we have achieved an awful lot, having successfully completed two of our most important target sites on the Indian margin. Boo yeah!

We have begun and completed coring at the first of the “BB” Sites, Site U1445, which was our deepest (oldest) target in this region. We drilled down over 600 m into the sediment, which combined with a water depth of 2400 m meant an impressive 3 km of pipe hanging off the bottom of the boat. Again, take a moment to wonder at the technological marvel of that.

At Site U1445 we double-cored to depth and got some fantastic sediment going all the way back to the late Miocene (~6 Ma), which will allow us to reconstruct monsoon and ocean dynamics over this critical interval of Earth’s history, in a region never before scientifically drilled by IODP. So in that sense, everything we find here is new to science and will add tremendously to our understanding of the planet’s most potent climate phenomenon.

Indian Ocean map3_jan 13

We then moved a little ways north and into shallower water (only 1400 m) to drill the second of our BB sites, U1446. This site was targeted to be our high-resolution Pleistocene section and boy it did not disappoint. Double cored with fantastic APC recovery it yielded a super high-resolution account of the last million years or so of sedimentation in the Mahanadi Basin. Woof!

I’m sure a whole heap of great science is going to come out of these cores and I am so excited to get back to the lab to start working on them. (Almost as excited as at the prospect of sleeping in my own bed and drinking a cold beer. Not in that order).

With so many different scientific specialties on board, from sedimentology to micropaleontology to physical properties and geochemistry, the potential for collaborations is endless. I’m sure the scientists on board, along with our shore-based collaborators and students, are going to be working together on this material for years to come.

While I’m here, by way of an explanation you may have noticed that I am (and indeed the people behind the official JR Twitter and Facebook accounts are) always a little vague when it comes to describing exactly what we’ve recovered out here during the expedition. Those engaged in outreach have to strike a delicate balance between letting everyone know all the cool stuff we’ve found and not giving too much away…

Why is this? Well, one of the rewards for the scientists for spending two months out here working 12-hour shifts is the head-start we get in getting the post-cruise science started and published. We have 12 months from the time we take our samples (probably July 2015) before anyone else is allowed to work on these cores, after which they, and all the data we’ve collected during the expedition, become fair game for the whole scientific community to request and analyse. So we want to make sure we don’t put too much sensitive information out into cyberspace that might jeopardise our plans. It’s only fair after all.

Having said that, I am just dying to tell everyone how awesome this stuff is! So here for your viewing pleasure is some mud from U1446. You might not know why exactly it is so awesome, but trust me, it is 🙂

U1446 core photos_blog

This mud makes us happy – like really, really happy…

Happy scientists_small

Right now we’re on our 3-day transit, chasing the sunrise east towards the Andaman Islands, where we’ll start drilling our final site. Yes, there’s even more awesome mud to come! So watch this space.

sunset1

Still to come:

-What do geochemists and paleomagnetists do on board?

-What do we find in the Andaman Islands?

-Where do the crew eat and work out on the JR?

-Who won the inaugural JR International Ping Pong Tournament 2015???

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