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8 March, 2001

-068 37 Latitude

076 32 S Longitude


It was hard to believe that less than twelve hours earlier we were relaxing at Davis station. Now we were coring, bringing up samples of the ocean floor faster than we could process them. Four Kasten cores came up, each one needing to be described, cataloged and sampled. We were like a well-oiled team, flexible in our duties, and diligent to the process. As soon as one core was complete another was moved onto "the table". As these were being processed other things were happening: a box core* was brought up containing an oozing, slimy, smelly sediment that made gym socks smell decent in comparison. I was foolish enough to volunteer to help process this box core. Digging through the oozy mud on top into the harder clay-like layers below was almost comical and near to impossible. The sediment was cold, at the ocean floor it had started out at around -2 c. It only became colder on deck with the -12 c weather. We ended up having to use our bare hands to cap off the ends of tubes that we pushed through the core in various places. Several times we had to go inside to run warm water over our frozen fingers. When the sides of the Box core were taken off the oozy sediment slid out everywhere. The shoveling didn't help get the ooze off the deck as it had little weight and just stuck to the shovel face. Finally we took a hose and broom and swept it off the deck to the ocean below. Even that was difficult as any puddled water tended to freeze in short order. Jenny, Kelly and I spent more time cleaning up the deck then getting the samples out. By the time our shift ended we were cold, tired, and sore. I wish I had a picture of how muddy we had become. I don't think there was a clean face among us.

After our shift had gone to bed the day shift sampled water at a different site using the CTD. On the monitor inside,they saw chlorophyll registering on the bottom of the ocean. This meant that living diatoms had made it to the bottom of the ocean alive, over 800 meters below the sea surface! Everyone was most excited for this was a topic talked about but rarely observed. When I woke up the next night there were 19 bottles of water for me to filter. I filtered most of the night and next day making extra slides for myself so I could see these living diatoms for myself using the ships Zeiss microscope. But alas, before I could do that I helped process yet another core. I knew we were getting "sedimented out" when people on our shift started making "hand mud prints" on pieces of paper. We had decided the lab needed a little decorating so we taped them to the cupboards. After our shift ended I spent time with my microscope slides. The diatoms were beautiful, glowing bright red under the special phosphorescent light. I took pages of notes labeling and drawing what I saw as the water was sampled at different depths. I followed the diatoms from the surface slide to the ocean floor. Though tired at the end of yet another long shift, I decided to join the gang watching a movie in the second floor lounge. I don't think sitting, down putting my feet up and eating popcorn ever felt so nice!!! Afterwards several of us watched a beautiful sunset, one of the best yet.

*a box core is a large grap measuring arout two feet by two feet.

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