Without a little geophysics that is. The ocean is a big place. How do you know where to core? Here are three sites we imaged, one of them yielded our longest core yet. Which one do you think it was? Why?
We’re finally underway, some 50 nautical miles southeast of Sri Lanka, and something that’s quickly become apparent is that when at sea only a plan that can change is a good plan.
It’s our intention to sail for the 90E ridge and collect some gravity cores and perform a CTD cast (more on this later) so our resident paleo-climatologists can have some fun. As we sat in port we schemed, and plotted tracks, and thought, hey, we have more than enough time to do this great work. However, the fuel barge was late (because it runs on island time we were told) so we left port about 4 hours after scheduled. Then as we made a left turn around the corner of the island a cross current reduced our ship speed from a planned 11.5 knots to 9 knots for about 4 hours and we’re still unable to do more than 10.8-10.9kts.
None of this is a deal-breaker of course, but the only certainty here is change. We’re keeping an eye on the ETA to our next way point and constantly readjusting what we expect we’ll have time to do. Ship time is a valuable commodity in science. As conditions change we try to peer into the future, we adapt with an eye on how to use this limited resource in the most impactful way, that is at least, until the next unexpected curveball.
In one of those twists of fate we landed in Sri Lanka to board the Revelle on the 9th anniversary of the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami. As we headed out of the airport the PA system announced that a minute of silence would be observed. The buzz of the terminal deadened as everything stopped and through the haze of jetlag it suddenly hit me, we’re here.
Sometimes life has a certain symmetry to it and the mind cannot resist making connections and seeing patterns. Not that there’s a grand design here, it’s just curious how things work out. It’s the anniversary of the earthquake that stirred in me the curiosity of what makes the Earth tick. It is on this day we’ve come aboard Revelle with the intent to peer down through the ocean at the Indonesian subduction zone and unravel some of its mysteries.
There is so much to do with preparations aboard, getting all our equipment in order and generally getting accustomed to the ship that there’s been little time to marvel at the opportunity we’ve been afforded. It’s getting late and as the ship quietens and only the creaking of the mooring lines can be heard outside there is space for this simple yet powerful reflection, that amongst the angst and anxiety of all the new things we have yet to learn, we can’t wait to get going.