Sunday, October 14, 2007

You have chosen wisely...

Nearly all of the on-ice Southern McMurdo Sound ANDRILL team is now here at McMurdo Station. 29 folks are out at the drill site camp on the multi-year sea ice where they will live while drilling goes on. Most of that drill team arrived in McMurdo several days before I did and were already out at the drill site when we arrived. They have been doing fabulous work and we currently hear that there may be core coming to "town" to start working with next week! All the ANDRILL discipline teams here at the station are busy preparing so that they will be ready to go to work as soon as the core starts to arrive. We are based in Crary Lab and several surrounding buildings (I'll give a tour later).

One task Dave Harwood, one of our co-Chief Scientists, has given all the science team members at the morning All-ANDRILL meeting is to reduce the total number of samples requested for the field phase of work. Last year the curatorial team took 6,000 samples during the on-ice field season. When we first arrived, 12,000 samples had already been requested. There aren't any more curators or more cores available than last year, so this number needs to change to be do-able in the time we have here.

This picture shows the first sampling plan for the medium size drill-bit (HQ) core. Looks a little bit like swiss cheese! Each rectangle represents a section of sediment core one meter in length. To better represent the actual core, they would fit end to end, but that doesn't fit on a page of paper well. The various shapes on it are each a different science group's sample request, and represent the volume of the core that would be taken by the type of sample desired.

There are limitations on how many samples can be taken in each section of core because this is just the first time the core will be sampled, not the only time! We need some rock to be left in all areas of the core for further studies that will happen once the science team and core are back in the US. On the ice, Dave wants the total volume of samples taken to be no more than 25% of the total core volume. The archived half of the core will be saved for at least 20 years, potentially being sampled at some time in the future when technology has improved. This will be an extremely valuable section of rock but there is a very limited amount so everything has to be carefully planned to make the best use of the core we have.

Everyone has tackled the task and at the last count, there were requests for 7,000 samples. Some of the other science team members will pitch in with the sampling effort to get that number completed while on ice.

If you had a very small amount of something very desirable, interesting, important, hard to obtain, and/or valuable, what criteria would you use to share it with the other students in your class?

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