The Process

Brendan arrived around mid-afternoon in academic fashion, behind the wheel of a Subaru Forrester. We circled through Corvallis, picking up Nick and JD, then started down Rt. 20 towards Newport, OR. This was not the standard orientation. Nick and I began graduate school with a cruise on the R/V Oceanus, a regional class research vessel. We spent six days working aboard the ship, then returned home to marvel at our newfound mud.

 

Picture2

R/V Oceanus docked in Newport, OR.

 

Back in Oregon State’s Marine Geology Repository (MGR), we CT-ed, split, imaged, and described cores. This brought the excitement of finally learning what the science team spent long days collecting at sea. We found remarkable physical properties inside!

 

Picture1

Cross section of a sediment core collected off the Oregon coast.

 

Over the past six weeks, we steadily chugged through lab work, and are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. Despite technical difficulties with the Multi-Sensor Core Logger (MSCL), we have finished compiling preliminary data for the cores. Currently, REU1 and graduate students are subsampling cores and running an array of tests to determine sediment properties. The process of sediment analyses is extensive and will continue for months or longer. I did not previously understand the amount of labor required for each core, and have more respect for the ~16 km of sediment at the MGR.

 

The combination of collecting, processing, and analyzing cores has proved a valuable experience. Seeing the process from A-Z helped solidify background knowledge, and made marine sediment coring more tangible. In academia, being a part of every step in the scientific process is rare; cores are oftentimes borrowed from repositories (e.g. the OSU MGR) and data is shared. Participating in the project’s sample collection, processing, and analyses has been a great experience for graduate and REU students.

 

–Ben Freiberg

 

1 “Research Experience for Undergraduates”: a ten-week summer program for science students.