First impressions

I’ve sailed on four two month IODP expeditions on the JOIDES Resolution drill ship, but this one felt different. Smaller, less familiar both in terms of the living and working environment, and then there’s the science. We are out to drill the heart of the famous Chicxulub crater, ground zero for the demise of 75 percent of life on Earth and 93% of species in the group I study, the calcareous nannoplankton.

Thirty minutes after leaving port, the rig appears in view, first a speck then gradually it transformed into a giant three-legged platform some 17 meters above the ocean surface. Unreal looking but incredibly impressive. The L/B Myrtle.

Friendly technicians and crew greeted us. We found our berths, each housing three two person bunks, had a safety talk then were provided with safety gear, giant red overalls, a hard hat and safety glasses. Lunch followed, delicious barbecued chicken that promised much good food to come. The labs looked like working on the space shuttle, packed with high tech gear, perfectly organized but tight.


I’m now falling into a routine. Lunch at noon, tea breaks every three hours, dinner at 6, reading my book on deck for 45 minutes after dinner, back to lab to look down the microscope.

We are expecting to recover our first core soon. It will feel good to be busy and making progress towards our objectives. I spent the day getting ready but also relaxing as I know it is going to get busy in a hurry and it may be several days till it slows down. The hotplate is ready, the UV lamp is set, all of the pestles and mortars and glasswear are clean. Great anticipation to seeing the first core. What will it look like? Will it be Eocene as we hope?

Watch this space!

Tim Bralower – Biostratigrapher

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