The University of Bremen has one of the very best core repositories for scientific study of the deep ocean anywhere on Earth. I spent a week there, scaring my hands and getting blisters in the name of ocean science. The reward? Some 1200 samples for my own research on the history of the North Altantic during the switch from the Greenhouse climate of the Early Eocene (~50 million years ago) to the Icehouse world of the early Oligocene (34 million years ago). I also picked up samples from the meteor strike that bumped off the dinosaurs (to study deep ocean circulation and the history of fish through the subsequent mass extinction 66 million years ago), and the record of fish communities through “Oceanic Anoxic Event 2”–a ~400,000 year period of extensive ocean hypoxia 94 million years ago. I joined an international team of some 40 scientists–some of whom sailed with me last summer on Expedition342 off Newfoundland, and some joining our expedition as “shore-based scientists”. Together we filled out two teams working from 7am to 2 pm and 2 pm to 10pm to cut chunks out of the cores for research in our individual laboratories. Mostly we used knives, scoops, and spatulas, but sometimes the work involved saws and long strips of plastic called ‘u-channels’. After each day’s work the immediate reward was a night on the town with friends from the ship and the repository sampling the surprisingly good cuisine of the old town “Schoor” district of Bremen. Nothing like a good dinner washed down with pints of German beer and some of the smoothest schnaps I have had… It may have been a grey North German winter, but it was a delight to be in Bremen anyway!
In early March I visited the Bremen core repository for the IODP Expedition 342 “sample party”–a week of drinking great German beer and cutting up cores from early in the morning to late at night. About 40 scientists from all over the world ended up taking some 30,000 samples for a plethora of post-cruise scientific studies. Even so, we managed to leave a couple kilometers of sediment in the cores for later work! Look at the U-Tube video to hear about the repository and what really went on at the ‘party’.