The almost a month-long “Pre-OSP” phase started on the 3rd of January 2018 at the MARUM institute in Bremen. The Pre-OSP this time focuses on measuring Thermal Conductivity (TC) of the cores from IODP Expedition 381 – the last measurements that require the cores to be whole – and preparation for the OSP (Onshore Science Party) in February when they will be split.
We, the “TC measuring” team (Laurence, Nataliya, Malgorzata) and Sally (EPC coordinator) arrived at the MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences in the morning of the 3rd of January, after leaving home on the 2nd – almost right after New Year celebrations! The beginning of the New Year was an exciting one as we were busy preparing our workspace for measurements in the four degrees celsius reefer, testing equipment and finalising plans.
As always, we were warmly welcomed by the MARUM staff, and we spent some time with them chatting over good coffee and cookies during breaks. These two days (2nd and 3rd of January) seem now like a relaxing warm-up before the work on continuous measurements in the following weeks, and the excellent evening dinners we had (traditional German food) seem like an unreal dream because…
…in order to complete TC measurements on the huge number of recovered cores from IODP Expedition 381 Corinth Active Rift Development, measurements are undertaken round the clock… in twelve hour shifts.
Laurence is on shift during the daytime (5 AM to 5 PM), and Nataliya together with Malgorzata work at night (5 PM to 5 AM).
TC measurements are recorded using the full space line source, the VLQ or “needle probe”, inserted into the cores along the same plane that they will be split. Before starting measurements the equipment was checked for calibration and then checked again using dummy cores: one made up of saturated and compacted topsoil and another of water-saturated clean sand. Both very different in terms of TC response…
Cores from IODP Expedition 381 that have been measured thus far have been full of surprises. Results have kept us on our toes in terms of gathering high quality data, and served to heighten our anticipation for finally splitting the cores in February and getting to see with our own eyes what is inside.
One thing that we have learned over the past couple of weeks: the better results – the better mood of the Pre-OSP team members! When we obtained the first measurement with a solid data-set, we started to dance in the reefer! Which is by the way a very good way of keeping yourself warm. That’s it – dancing, some yoga, jumping and jogging around the reefer’s shelfs are the top activities we do to keep ourselves warm during the long periods of time that we have to spend in four degrees Celsius. Though, unloading or re-loading core sections out of and into the transport boxes is a bit more physically engaging way of keeping the circulation flowing. Laurence once counted how many core sections he moved from and out the boxes during one shift and the number exceeds 300! It’s definitely good exercise. We will have some more muscles after Pre-OSP, that is for sure!
We celebrated Laurence’s Birthday on the 15th of January, at 5 am in the reefer in four degrees Celsius. Not everyone gets Birthday wishes at 5 am!
We do not have time to explore Bremen at this time. Twelve hour shifts leave time only for TC measurements and some sleep. Not a lot of sleep by the way, but the results of TC measurements are their own reward!