Agriculture
Silk’s superpowers
Hungry bug seeks hot meal
Springing forward
Amphibians
Toads
Frogs and Toads
Salamanders
Animals
Sleep Affects a Bird's Singing
How to Fly Like a Bat
Dolphin Sponge Moms
Behavior
The chemistry of sleeplessness
Lost Sight, Found Sound
The Snappy Lingo of Instant Messages
Birds
Flamingos
Condors
Carnivorous Birds
Chemistry and Materials
Diamond Glow
Hair Detectives
Bandages that could bite back
Computers
Troubles with Hubble
Small but WISE
Graphene's superstrength
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Dino-Dining Dinosaurs
Fingerprinting Fossils
Hall of Dinos
E Learning Jamaica
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
Slip Slidin' Away—Under the Sea
Detecting an Eerie Sea Glow
Earth from the inside out
Environment
Blooming Jellies
A Change in Leaf Color
When Fungi and Algae Marry
Finding the Past
Meet your mysterious relative
Ancient Cave Behavior
Untangling Human Origins
Fish
Skates
Sturgeons
Sting Ray
Food and Nutrition
Chew for Health
Moving Good Fats from Fish to Mice
Packing Fat
GSAT English Rules
Problems with Prepositions
Who vs. That vs. Which
Finding Subjects and Verbs
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
The Annual GSAT Scholarships
Ministry of Education Announces 82 GSAT Scholarships for 2010
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Exam Preparation
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
GSAT Mathematics
Math and our number sense: PassGSAT.com
Deep-space dancers
Setting a Prime Number Record
Human Body
Music in the Brain
Football Scrapes and Nasty Infections
Attacking Asthma
Invertebrates
Grasshoppers
Tapeworms
Ants
Mammals
Siberian Husky
Mongooses
Bobcats
Parents
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
Physics
Project Music
Echoes of a Stretched Egg
Black Hole Journey
Plants
City Trees Beat Country Trees
A Change in Leaf Color
Seeds of the Future
Reptiles
Caimans
Crocodilians
Boa Constrictors
Space and Astronomy
Rover Makes Splash on Mars
A Dead Star's Dusty Ring
Witnessing a Rare Venus Eclipse
Technology and Engineering
Model Plane Flies the Atlantic
Musclebots Take Some Steps
Bionic Bacteria
The Parts of Speech
Pronouns
What is a Verb?
What is a Noun
Transportation
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Revving Up Green Machines
Flying the Hyper Skies
Weather
Where rivers run uphill
Watering the Air
Recipe for a Hurricane
Add your Article

Deep Drilling at Sea

Beakers and chemical bottles sit on shelves, just like in a normal science lab. High-powered microscopes, incubators for growing bacteria, and other equipment line the room, just like in a normal science lab. But, once you feel the floor start to sway or you look out the windows only to see a vast expanse of blue, you know this is no typical science lab. Instead, the seven floors of research space are a "floating university" on board a ship called the JOIDES Resolution. Last June, the 60 scientists aboard the Resolution set sail for the waters off British Columbia. They drilled holes deep into the ocean floor and conducted experiments that they hope will provide clues about what's happening in these largely unexplored areas. "We know more about Mars and the moon than we do about the ocean and its evolution," says Steve Bohlen. He's president of the Joint Oceanographic Institutes, the organization that manages the expedition. This month, the ship is in waters off Costa Rica, drilling more holes deep into the seafloor. It will later head for the North Atlantic, looking for evidence of climate change in the distant past. Deep knowledge To study the layers of mud, silt, and rock that lie beneath the sea, scientists take core samples. They gather these long tubes of material by drilling a narrow, vertical hole into the crust. The researchers then analyze the material, layer by layer. A tube's different layers of rocks and sand and tiny fossils of ancient organisms provide a timeline of what happened on Earth in a given location over the last 200 million years or so. The first ocean drilling program in 1968 gave scientists evidence that Earth's crust was divided into huge plates. These plates slowly move around, spreading apart, slipping under, or rubbing past each other. Since then, researchers have used cores from around the world to track changes in climate or understand why some areas are rattled by earthquakes. One core drilled near Florida contained greenish glassy particles. Geologists say the particles are evidence that a hefty meteorite slammed into the Gulf of Mexico 65 million years ago. The new drilling program aims to delve even deeper into the mysteries of the ocean. It's the biggest earth science program we have, says Andrew Fisher. He likens it to the Hubble space telescope, which astronomers have used to probe outer space and make discoveries about the universe. Fisher is a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and was one of the leaders of the Resolution's June expedition. Resolution research Research continues nonstop aboard the Resolution. The crew and scientists work in rotating, 12-hour shifts, with no days off, for all the days the ship is at sea. Expeditions can last as long as 55 days. To gather data, an experienced crew lowers drill pipe through thousands of feet of water in order to grind through 2,000 feet of mud and rock. Sometimes, they have to locate a hole bored into the seafloor years before so that researchers can obtain a fresh sample. Getting the drill pipe into such a hole is like standing on top of the Empire State Building and trying to get a straw into a Coke bottle on the ground, says staff scientist Adam Klaus of Texas A&M University in College Station. To provide a steady platform, the ship has special engines to keep it in place, even in choppy seas. When technicians remove a sample from the drill pipe, the call of "core on deck" brings the scientists running. They immediately label the core sample and split it down the middle. One half is carefully wrapped up and archived so that scientists can study it later. The other half is subjected to all kinds of tests, right on the boat. Microbiologists quickly isolate samples in a sterile environment so that rock-dwelling bacteria won't suffer contamination. Geologists describe the sediment layers and take measurements of their volumes, densities, and magnetic properties. Scientists box up samples to take to their home laboratories. Earth's plumbing system In the holes left by the drill pipes, researchers stash sensors that detect and record temperature, pressure, and water seepage in the rock surrounding the hole. These sensors will gather data for a few years before the scientists send robot subs to collect the information. Fisher and his colleagues plan to establish a network of sensors in the ocean floor to study water flow in Earth's crust. Eventually, they hope to be able to pump water into one hole to see if it comes out in another hole. Such experiments will tell them more about how the "plumbing system" within Earth's rocks works. Other investigators are excited about the tiny microbes that can live in rocks more than 2,000 feet below the surface. Oregon State University graduate student Mark Nielsen is interested in how the microbes store and handle energy deep within the rock. These microbes can't use photosynthesis—there's no sunlight—or many of the other processes used by bacteria. Neilson's samples may tell him which chemical compounds the organisms take up. Such studies could be useful in the search for life on other planets. Some scientists have suggested that, if life exists on Jupiter's moon Europa or Saturn's moon Titan, it could resemble the microbes that dwell in the equally hostile environment of Earth's crust. Life on a boat Working on a research ship isn't always easy. The scientists are away from family and friends for almost 2 months. Although they have access to e-mail, all 110 people on board the ship must share one telephone for personal calls. Plus, with 12-hour working days and labs that don't always have windows, a researcher's sense of time can get out of whack. "You can't tell the day, and time doesn't matter," says Verena Heuer. She's a microbiologist from Bremen University in Germany. "It's just the sea and you and the ship," she says. Two days before the ship's departure, Heuer and some friends took long walks. Once they were aboard, their strolling options were strictly limited. Packing for the trip often included special personal items. Klaus brought pictures of his family. Nielsen stocked up on chocolate, Sour Patch Kids, and books. He also bought an iPod music player specifically for the trip. Heuer packed coffee and said that as long as she didn't run out of chocolate, she'd be a happy camper. For the scientists, the chance to be with other scientists to share ideas, ask questions, and conduct experiments makes up for the tough living conditions. "I'm always humbled when I come to a port and see a ship waiting and know I get to go out on it," Fisher says. "There are people from all different countries doing all different kinds of research. There's nothing like it in the world."

Deep Drilling at Sea
Deep Drilling at Sea








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™