04 July 2014

Visiting the BGS

Nobody likes doing double work. So if you are organising a research cruise, aiming to take sediment cores that hold the answer to your research question of choice, you had best first see if the BGS has already been there. Most likely, it has! So before this summer's cruise we wanted to find out what treasures were already held at the BGS core storage. I had spent quite some time trying to find out what would already be available with regard to suitable sediments, but now the time had come to go and see for ourselves.

I travelled with James. We used the opportunity to bring back the cores one of James' PhD students, who has submitted and is expected to defend her thesis in September, had used for her research. So we drove up in a big van (she had used a lot of material!) on a Tuesday afternoon, and spent the evening in the pleasant village of Grimston, not far from Keyworth (near Nottingham), where the BGS core storage is. And on Wednesday we drove through the gate of the former convent.

The head of the core storage greeted us at the reception, and walked us to the room reserved for us. Core sections, everywhere! All was ready for us. We had requested to see five vibrocores (between 2.3 and 6m long) and the upper 20 m of a rotary core. The whole core was over 200m long, but we only want sediment from at most some 26.000 years back, so all the older stuff could stay in the box. But still, it was a lot of material!

 The cores laid out for us

We looked at the vibrocores first. They were a bit old and dried out! More than me, even. But it was still clear what they contained. The first one didn't have anything for us. Then there were some that looked like they did contain the sediment contact we were looking for, but that it had been distorted by the coring process. Maybe we should go back to the locations they had been taken, and see if we could do better? One core was so badly described we could hardly work out in which order the sections came in. That one was not a winner! And the rotary core had intervals of non-recovery that were such we could not use it. So we were done by noon: we wanted to take three vibrocores with us. Could we not re-core these sediments, then we could see what we could still get out of these 41-year-old cores.

We also had had a request from a colleague from one of the other universities involved if we could get our hands on some seismic data while we were here anyway; that was easier said than done. What he wanted was only available in hardcopy, and would not be lent out. And we didn't know what he was looking for! And he didn't answer the phone. He'll have to show up in person if he wants that information...

By the time we had figured all of it out, the lady in charge had just gone off to the gym, so we had to wait. But we had laptops with us; always enough to do. When she reappeared she brought us to the canteen for lunch, after which we arranged the loan of the cores. And when they had been loaded up we were ready to go! Only time will tell what this visit will have gained us. It might direct us to three coring sites, or perhaps get us perhaps one date of when the ice retreated from the location where one of the cores was taken; maybe it will all come to nothing. One way to find out!

No comments: