8 February, 2001
Coming on Station
"Ok people, orientation meeting at twelve midnight," said Pat, our watch chief, as we ate our lunch/dinner after shift. We had surveyed the area and Pat had stood several times with our Principal Scientist, and others, staring at the "Bathy 2000". The "Bathy" is a machine that looks at the ocean floor through echoes (who, or what, else use echoes to find things?). What's neat is that the "Bathy" shows you the ocean floor and layers of sediment below it. These layers have accumulated from the tiny microscopic plankton and diatoms that live in the water, and have died and drifted down to the ocean floor. The layers are also made from silt and clay that was carried off the continent by glaciers. It is these layers that interest us because they tell us how "busy" the glaciers are in carrying the sediment (what is sediment?) off the continent. They also indicate how busy the plankton and diatoms were in the past. From this, we can tell about past climates to see if they were warmer or colder than today. So, here we are at 12:00 midnight and it is still light outside. We have traveled halfway around the world and crossed the southern sea for this moment: to be on station. Now the work starts, Pat has lists of tasks for us to do, which will soon be posted on the walls. There are lots of things that need to be done once the tubes (cores) containing sediment from the ocean floor come on board. This is what I have come to experience in Antarctica.
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