15 September 2009

Swamp forams

Bits of dirt. Decaying grass roots. A small dead worm. Lots and lots of indeterminable bits. And then: a foram! A real one! Not a big one, not pretty, but unmistakably a foram. My heart jumped. And then I knew my nerdness was confirmed again.

Spot the foram! The very first!

The first day after coming back from Iceland was too hectic with all sorts of things that needed to be dealt with. The second day after coming back from Iceland was the big laboratory cleaning day. No access! The third day I made my debut. And sub-sampled a few samples. Take five cc, sieve it, and stain it. And then you need to give the dye some time for the staining. Monday I could split a sample and have a first look! And these salt marsh samples are a mess. But there they were. Forams.

I get dirtier and dirtier with time… I started my foram career with tropical, planktonic forams from the deep sea, from a sediment core that spanned 240.000 years. If you then have a sample of, say, 100.000 years old from 2.5 km depth you hardly have more than virginally white, empty foram tests. Some clay perhaps. A lost diatom. All clean and neat and tidy.

In the Barents Sea I dealt with surface samples. All sorts of squirmy things that were still alive when the sample was taken. A lot of poo from unidentified marine animals. Dead invertebrate blobs. Mats of sponge needles that catch each other and get terribly in the way.

But now I have to wring my forams from the roots of salt marsh grasses. Sieving that is quite some work. And after sieving you’re left with lots and lots of decaying grass bits. And from in between that you need to find your foram way. Yet I will prevail. Would there be any messier forams?


Anonymous said...

Great! I love the 'spot the foram' challenge... what can we win?

Margot said...

A foram!

Viking said...

"If messier forams there are, find them you will."

Although I am not sure rotting grass roots are more messy than unidentified sea creature poo...

I'll stick to tokamakium and the occasional lost carbon atom. Or better, I just tell other people about that without getting involved.

Jeroen said...

"Spot the foram!" It's lot harder than the "Spot the looney!" contest. (Although I could not win that one either.)
You make nerdhood sound cool AND funny.