Nu geit dat los!

Sedimentologist Sofia Pechlivanidou and structural geologist Gino de Gelder of the Visual Core Description Team examine another section of core. Photo L.McNeill, ECORD/ IODP.

Nu geit dat los – this is the Low German way of saying: Here we go! Meaning in this case: the onshore phase for IODP expedition 381 has started.

More than 50 days offshore – and yet it is only now that the IODP Expedition 381 science party will be completed. All 35 science party members and technicians as well as ECORD Science Operator personnel will be in one room for the first time. ECORD organises an informal icebreaker so that all the science party members meet and can become familiar with each other – after all they will all be working closely together for the next four weeks!

The Onshore Science Party or OSP – this is what the onshore phase is called – is now underway in Bremen, Germany. All 1645 meters of cores that were collected from Corinth in the autumn are here waiting to be split in half and analysed. One half will be left intact and archived after being photographed and scanned, the other working half will be the source of all the samples to be taken at the OSP. Following this both halves will be stored at the IODP Core Repository at MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen.

Not all members of the Science Party have been offshore, but even so all of the scientists are seeing the split cores for the first time. Everybody is curious about what is hidden inside. The uppermost layers of sediments are dominated by greenish-grey muds. Maybe further down there will be sedimentary rocks and who knows what other surprises, but for the first days the greenish-grey mud will keep the scientists busy.

Scientists will work in two shifts from 7.30 am until 10.30 pm for 26 days to process all the cores according a core-flow following strict IODP standards. The science party needs to process one core every 47 minutes, or 63 meters per day to reach this target. As a result all of the various science teams , Geochemistry, Micropalaeontology, Palynology, Petrophysics, Palaeomagnetism, Core Log Seismic Integration, Structural Geology and Sedimentology, are becoming very busy, knowing the clock is ticking for them to perform full analysis and sampling of the cores.

The Geochemistry team (from left): Carol Mahoney, Clint Miller, Simone Sauer and Joana Seguin. Photo: MBoettcher, ECORD/IODP

Ulrike Prange (ESO) and Martin Böttcher