Back in May, one of the Chicxulub Crater cores wrote a blog post about what its life was like on the Liftboat Myrtle. (That is not a typo. You can read the post here: https://esoexpedition364chicxulubimpactcrater.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/emerging-from-the-deep/).
I am not sure exactly which of these cores wrote that post…
…but its life is about to become a lot more exciting, because each of these cores is waiting its turn to be cut in half with a saw.
Cutting cores in half actually serves important scientific purposes. For one thing, it gives the cores a flat, smooth surface that makes it easier for the scientists to observe and measure them.
Once a core is cut in two, both halves meet different, but equally important, destinies. One half becomes the “Archive” half. This half stays preserved for any future scientists who may one day have a need to study it.
The other half, named the “Working” half, has a slightly more traumatic existence. The working half will have a variety of pieces cut out of it. These pieces provide samples that the scientists can analyze to determine properties such as its chemical make-up.
So how do you cut through these cores that are made of rocks such as limestone to granite? With diamonds!
Diamonds are also a core-cutter’s best friend, because diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substance on Earth. The saw-blade is covered with tiny diamond tips that allow it to cut through a hard rock core like it is a block of cheese.
The sawing process is also helped by a substance that is so common, you regularly flush it down the toilet. I am of course talking about water.
A core is kept wet as it travels through the saw. The water keeps the saw blade and the core cool so that nothing in the core will be altered by heat.
All that water mixes with the rock dust from the sawing, causing the core to come out of the saw covered in mud. The last step of the sawing process is to hose off the mud. The core halves are then ready to be carted off to the science labs so the scientists can begin observing them and uncovering their secrets.
Written by Kevin Kurtz
Images used (in descending order):
UPrange@ECORD_IODP (feature image)
kkurtz@ECORD_IODP (multiple cores image)
kkurtz@ECORD_IODP (split cores image)
kkurtz@ECORD_IODP (core washing image)