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19 August, 2004

On the Bridge

The official drilling at site 2 started today. The first real core was brought up in the early afternoon and we are expecting them to arrive on the Oden via helicopter around 11 pm tonight. You can simply imagine the excitement! The actual cores will stay on the Vidar Viking and be examined fully in Bremen, Germany in November. For now some non-intrusive measurements will be taken aboard the Viking in an attempt to date the sediments. On board the Oden, we will receive and examine "core catcher" samples; these are end pieces from the actual cores that can be anywhere from about 6 - 30 cm in length. These are the sediments that the micropaleontologists will sample and examine for microfossils. Their finds combined with the data from the Viking will more accurately date the age of the sediments. The goal of the expedition is to drill down some 500 meters in an attempt to go back 50 million years. I plan to spend time working with the scientists in the Main Lab on deck 1 and report back more fully on their procedures.

While we are waiting for the core samples to come over to the Oden from the Vidar Viking I am busy learning more about the operations of this icebreaker. Erik and I spent some time with the ship's master, Tomas Arnell, and Thomas Stromsnas, a 2nd Officer of the ship. Thomas agrees to let us videotape him as he explains about piloting the ship. We are in fairly easy ice conditions at this moment, although that could change at any time, so he has the time to talk to us while he is working. Thomas explains all of the navigation and steering equipment as well as the ice-breaking mechanisms that he can control from the bridge. At times during his explanation it is necessary for him to stop and put all his attention to maneuvering the ship in the ice. He is very adept at piloting and talking, and explains his work in a way that I think my students will enjoy when they watch the videotape.

Helicopter transfer seems to be the most common method to transfer personnel and core samples between the Vidar and the Oden, but occasionally basket transfers take place as well. When these transfers occur, it is a great opportunity to take close-up pictures of the drill ship and crew members; often they are filming us as we film them. I parcticularly like this one I included here, showing the bow of the Vidar Viking.

We are all quite comfortably taken care of here on the Oden, with a well-stocked and managed kitchen, a gym, sauna, and cinema, but Asa, one of my cabin mates, discovered the other night that one amenity lacking is a hair salon. She did not have the time to cut her hair before she left for the expedition, so we try to take care of that here in our cabin. She seemed pleased with the results but I'm sure not going to give up teaching for hair-dressing!

In closing today, I really enjoy receiving e-mails about my experiences and regret that I can't respond personally to all of them. We are limited in e-mail transmissions because they must be relayed by satellite. I will try to answer any questions you ask about the expedition in these journal entries. In the meantime, please continue to e-mail me via the link on this website.

The bow of the Vidar Viking and crew members.

On the Bridge with Master Tomas Arnell.

Giving Asa a shipboard haircut.

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