Hey SAGANet friends! Julia here, I'm one of your admins and normally I operate out of Denver, Colorado, but currently I find myself on a ship in the Pacific Ocean just under Tokyo, Japan. I’m onboard a drilling ship called the JOIDES Resolution acting as one of two Education Officers on Expedition 350 – Izu-Bonin-Mariana Rear Arc.
The ship is a drilling vessel and has awesome capabilities to bring up core samples from depths below the seafloor. It's really impressive, and I'm in awe of the technology. First they have to reach the seafloor (as of now we are at water depths of 2,200m) by stringing drill pipe together one of top of the other. Then they have to send a camera down to scan the floor to look out for phone wires strewn across the pacific, so they don’t accidentally clip them. Next they bring the camera up and begin drilling. They are aiming to reach ~2,200m below the seafloor, so that would be a total of 4,400m of drill pipe (that’s close to three miles)! AH-MAY-ZING!
The main purpose of this expedition is to better understand how continental crust forms. Continental crust is more andesitic in composition than seafloor basalt, the question why and through what process? EXP 350 is drilling just south of Tokyo on a volcanic rear arc. The rear arc has more andesitic rock than the fore arc so with data from this drill site along with the data from EXP 351 and 352 (both drilling in different places in the area) they hope to paint a better picture of the formation of continental crust.
Wait? Julia, aren’t you an Astronomy/Astrobiology person? What are you doing on this ship and how does it relate to Astrobiology?
Good questions. Well, thanks to my dear friend Elizabeth Frank (PhD candidate at the University of Colorado) who tipped me off to this unique job listing, I applied as I’ve blogged from a research ship once before and loved the experience and it is a passion to communicate good science. Astrobiology, you ask? Earth is very unique in that it is the ONLY planet to have continental crust. Not Venus, not Mars.
I’ll go into more detail in future blog posts!
For now, this Julia DeMarines (<-- check out my very nautical last name!) signing off!