The calm before the storm?……Nope!!

The “Pre-OSP” at the MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Germany, does not only include measuring Thermal Conductivity (TC) of the full cores from IODP Expedition 381 by the European Petrophysics Consortium (EPC) Team (see, but is a very busy preparation phase for the Expedition´s Onshore Science Party (OSP).

The preparations at MARUM ( started many months ago, when for example we reserved the accommodation for the Science Party, this at a stage when we did not know the exact timing/duration of the OSP or the exact amount of recovered core! We also reserved numerous lab and office spaces ahead of time, as well as measurement slots in a variety of MARUM laboratories (e.g., core sampling, core logging and scanning, geochemistry, geotechnics, mineralogy (XRD), palynology, paleomagnetics, petrophysics), to ensure that sufficient capacity will be available for the OSP for the IODP-MSP standard measurements.

Right after the end of the offshore phase on Dec 18, the expedition data were made available for the Science Party on a MARUM server. This was key, meaning that all science party members could immediately access the information required to revise their preliminary sample requests, which were initially submitted before the offshore phase. The beginning of the New Year was quite exciting as the expedition cores arrived at MARUM on January 3! The two refrigerated containers were unloaded instantly and Alex and Holger safely transported the 21 core boxes, into the reefer of the IODP Bremen Core Repository (BCR) in what seemed to be no time.

Since the Autumn we intensified our preparations, preparing the OSP workstations in a variety of labs, setting up IT hardware in numerous offices and labs, loading the latest curation database version on the computers, testing equipment, checking our stocks of consumables, discussing how to optimise core-flow plans and when and how to integrate outreach activities. Equally important is to arrange procedures and reservations with the Mensa, where everybody has lunch from Monday to Friday! Combined with grocery shopping for coffee breaks and snacks and catering for the weekend meals, it is quite a complex and intense logistical exercise! Nevertheless, we are still working regular hours (ok, some of the time) and not in shifts yet. This will change for all of us later this week!

Successively, during the month of January the sample requests were shared with the Co-Chief scientists Lisa and Donna as well as the EPMs Gareth and Jez. Together with Ursula they form the so-called Sample Allocation Committee (SAC). The SAC establishes a project-specific sampling strategy and makes decisions on project-specific sample requests received before the drilling project, during the drilling project including the OSP, and during the moratorium period, that is twelve months after the end of the OSP.

In these last few days before the start of the OSP the setup of some of the work stations are still to be finalised, but all of us are very excited to finally start splitting and processing the new cores and looking forward to finally meeting the whole Science Party.

Last but not least we are looking forward to continue working and collaborating with the wider ESO team, which comprises colleagues from the BGS, the EPC, and us at MARUM. All of those involved in the OSP – scientists, ESO staff (including the twelve University of Bremen Geosciences student helpers) – comprise a team of more than 70 people, who will closely work on processing and describing the 1645 meters of cores and samples in two shifts over the course of a full month!

Ursula Roehl.

Image captions: Beakers all ready for the moisture and density (MAD) analysis on Expedition 381 samples; Ongoing preparations in the core description lab; The core splitter nice and shiny, but still asleep; Earlier stage of microscopes set up in the core description lab; Petrophysics equipment awaiting installation; Patrizia unpacking and assembling microscope equipment; The calm before the storm, scientists’ office not claimed yet  (All images U.Röhl, ECORD/IODP)


Exp. 381 core boxes on arrival at MARUM (U.Prange, ECORD/IODP)


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