Centre for Geobiology

IODP First Report - Barbados

Our scientist-at-sea, PhD student Steffen Jorgensen, participating in IODP’s Expedition 336 (International Ocean Drilling Program) left Bergen on the 13th of September (in the pouring rain) to arrive hours later in sunny, warm Barbados!!

Working in Barbados

Steffen Jorgensen

He reports that, unfortunately, he had a deadline for a research article, so he was mainly in front of his lap top for a couple of days while the ship, the JOIDES Resolution, was being prepared for two months at sea!

Jorgensen writes:

“I have now embarked the research vessel JOIDES Resolution for a 9 weeks drilling expedition. The ship left port early morning 17th of Sep. (mid day for you guys in Norway) and is now heading out to the open sea to our first drilling site.

Onboard is a team of scientist specialized in geology, hydrology, geochemistry and microbiology (I belong to the last group). Besides the scientific staff there are a bunch of technical staff that help with almost everything imaginable and are available 24 hours a day.

Then there are the drilling people, the engineers, the chefs (very important!) ... Everybody is needed to make this expedition run smoothly and it is fascinating to see how such a big ship is like a small village. A special village, of course, as everything is designed and organized to get as much scientific data as possible and make the life for the scientists as easy as possible. I feel very privileged to be able to focus one hundred percent on science while I am here.

Just imagine how much could be done in the labs back home if somebody at the institute was doing your laundry, making your food and your bed and fixing all the small IT issues, labelling your samples etc. On the other hand, sometimes it is nice to have a life besides science J

This expedition (called exp. 336) has several objectives; top priority is to install and retrieve so called CORKS.

A CORK is an installation that can be lowered down into an existing bore hole, carrying a variety of different equipment to measure geophysical parameters, often several hundreds meters down in the seafloor. The CORK will then be left in the borehole for a shorter or longer period of time (from months to years). It will be retrieved during another, later expedition.

It is such a retrieval that is going to be our first task on this cruise. This particular CORK at site 395A has been down in the borehole for 15 years. It has been logging temperature and pressure the whole time. Keir Becker, one of the guys that originally installed this CORK back in 1997 is also with us this year and I reckon that patience is one of his stronger sides.

After the CORK is safely back on our deck, a new one will be installed in its place. The new one is a bit more advanced than the one that we will pull up. In addition to logging geochemical parameters, it will carry small in situ chambers where microbes can grow (I will write more about these things when we are on site).

The second task will be to drill sediment cores and down into the underlying basalt layer. It is these samples that I am interested in. I (among others) will sample from these cores to look at the microbial life that lives in these harsh, very deep environments.

As well as examining the microbes in the cores, researchers will measure a long list of different geophysical and geochemical parameters. It is through linking the microbial data with the geochemical and geophysical data that we try to understand just exactly what the microorganisms are doing down their. (I will write a lot more on this subject later on, so stay tuned.)

By the way if you are interested in more information check out the blog from our outreach person Jeniffer Magnusson at http://joidesresolution.org/blog from where you can also learn more about the ship."

Have a question? Send it to Steffen!


Links relating to the cruise: