The Beauty of the Cores

For me looking at the horizontal cores, this is love at first sight. I see lovely coloured GRANITE with beautiful big red spots in it – and by the way: ‘granum‘ is the old latin word for ‘korn‘ (German) or ‘grain‘ (English), and these grains are easy to see. If you love colours you are in the right place. How proud would I be to take a core outside the core repository to my home – but that would be the end of my adventure with ECORD at MARUM! So I leave with a longing look back to the cores for today.

The researchers here are the priviliged ones to describe and interprete the cores first. For one year, only members of the science party get to come near the cores and work on the samples. During this so called moratorium, which lasts one year, researchers try to process and interpret as much data as they can and publish their results.

So as to not give any of that away we are only allowed to have a look from a frog’s perspective – but it doesn’t work out, the camera focuses at the plastic liner that coats the core – what a pity! So you have only a small idea about the beauty… Just a blurred impression:

The red parts are feldspar, the white ones quartz, and the black ones amphibole.

Some with black parts:


The cores that are not being processed yet are stored in boxes in the Bremen Core Repository (BCR). Wow!!! When the gaze wanders over metres of shelves one is amazed by the height of well ordered and systematically labeled drilling cores!


Outside in the hall, the split cores show another beauty. I see all types of brown I have ever seen in painting aquarels. Thin and extremely thin layers lie accurately side by side. Sometimes there is a little bubble chaos in between: animals have burrowed through the seafloor when it was still soft. Others look like coffee – slowly softly mixing with several drops of milk, chocolate icecream … For visual description the researchers use Munsell colorcharts.


Over some stages – repeating cycles like the wobble of a metronome – nearly-white sections are repeating. This is according to the Milankovic cycles, influenced by the interaction between the Earth and the sun. Suddenly I understand: the ocean has written our history, long before letters were written or books were printed.

Written by Barbara Matyssek

Images: BMatyssek@ECORD_IODP



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