Day 13 Time is ticking down but the science continues: Christian Halverson

By October 9th, 2017

Octopus core

Today has been all about octopus box corers. I don’t really get the machinery name—I always thought a core was cylindrical or a sphere, like ice cores, sediment cores and so on. Yet, today, we deployed an octopus box corer to add to some work we did a couple of nights ago. The notion is to grab a scoop of the ocean floor sediments to be analysed back at a lab. I did not realise this at first, but Investigator is happy to deploy scientific equipment on behalf of researchers, even if they are not on board—that’s what we were doing today.

The rather large duel clawed grab was dropped a series of times to scoop the mud, sand or oozes off the bottom. Our first grab was at 70 metres, the next at 137 metres and the final sets around 300 metres. This can tell us how stable this area is and whether there have been many turbidity events.

As the chief researcher was not on board to discuss the work, I have had to use some of the details from the voyage plan and the other Investigator scientists’ knowledge of the research. It seems that in studying the sediments you can tell where they come from. Are they blown in? Are they sediments from dead plankton? Or, have they flowed from rivers and drifted across the continental shelf?

Of course, sediments can also help tell us many other things. For example, if we are to set up oceanic-based renewable energy turbines, we will need to anchor them to the ocean floor. To do this, sampling like we’ve done today, can help us see what sediment is present, how stable it is, and whether we need to bore down deeper to moor surface platforms.

The samples we have collected so far have been muds and sand. This was unexpected, as we found sand where we thought we should have mud. But this is science—just because we think something is there, it is the evidence that is important. Sounds like another opportunity for a research project!

It would be nice to follow this, and other projects that have occurred on the voyage once I’ve returned to land. Lucky for me, I have lots of email addresses so my students and I can stay in touch.