Question: We are studying the Periodic Table and were wondering what elements or compounds are the most prevalent in the core samples taken out of the ocean
floor?

Name:
Mrs Ramsey, 7th grade science class
School: Navasota Junior High School, Navasota TX
Response: The sediments are composed of minerals and porewater. The porewater will have Ca, Mg, Fe, Sr. The minerals are carbonates (CaCOz) including Calcite, Dolomite, Araganite. The elements are C, O, Ca, Mg, Fe, Ca, Mg, COz. Also you can have clay and Quartz which has silica. In the interstitial water they are finding Barium, Chloride, Strontium, Lithium as well as Nitrogen, Hydrogen, Magnesium, and Sulphur in the solids. (2) The sediments are primarily calcite (CaCO3), secondly dolomite (CaMg[CO3]2), and thirdly varying amounts of clay/silt (silt is probably mostly quartz - SiO2; clay is a variety of compositions of silicate minerals, which all have Si2O5, in combination with other elements such as Al, Mg, Fe, etc., that form flat sheet-like structures. The chalkboard chalk in school classrooms is actually soft clay (probably kaolinite - Al2Si2O5[OH]4), not real chalk (which is composed of calcite microfossils). Thus the most common elements are: Oxygen (O), Carbon (C), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Silicon (Si), and then smaller portions of Aluminum (Al), Iron (Fe), and Hydrogen (H).


Question: What exactly do you expect to find? Have you found any clues that there are any life forms that have not been discovered yet?
Name:
Melissa
School: Charlotte Middle School, Charlotte TX
Response: We expect to find that there have been rises and falls in the sea level that drowned and exposed the reefs at various times. We will be investigating the times these occurred and the magnitudes of them. One of the scientists has found a foraminifer that appears to be different from those found here previously. There is an indication that there was a shallow lagoon here with sea grass because sea grass fossils were found. This was expected as a part of the reef system. We don't expect to find new life forms, but discovery is always possible. To take a look at some of the life forms we are finding, look at this page on calcareous nannofossils, and this page on foraminifers (mentioned in Broadcast 4 on Geologic Time). Some new life forms were discovered by other scientists as part of a seafloor system called a hydrothermal vent. Scientists didn't know that life could exist in such extreme conditions until they actually went to the vents to study them. To find out more about these newest seafloor forms of life, visit this page on seavents.


Question: Have you hit hard weather, like a storm or a hurricane?
Name:
Tommy
School: Charlotte Middle School, Charlotte TX
Response: Tommy, if you note the weather reports each week, they have been showing the same weather. The captain says the reason is that we are in a monsoon season with the prevailing winds out of the southeast. It is a "dry monsoon", which he much prefers over a wet monsoon.
Although this is hurricane season for this part of the world, they do not usually hit in this immediate area. Tropical storms hit Brisbane and Sydney to the south of here a couple of weeks ago and did a lot of damage, but there were no effects here from them. The highest waves so far have been 3 to 4 feet. The captain says that is enough to make a person seasick in a small boat. On our eight-day cruise from here to Guam, we may still encounter heavy seas that would make even this big ship rock quite seriously.
As an extra note, check out the weather reported in Broadcast 4 with your teacher!! It's changing!


Question: Why are you studying climate changes if we can't do anything about them?
Name:
Johnna
School: A&M Consolidated Middle School, College Station TX
Response: Johnna, your question about climatic change is quite challenging. One of the major results of climatic change may be sea level rise, which we will be discussing later. We need to be aware that climatic change does occur; we are looking for patterns relating to time and magnitude because what has poccurred before may well occur again. The vast majority of Earth's population lives within two hours of the sea. If the sea level rises because of global warming, what happens to all those people? What would happen to the economy of many countries? You are close enough to Houston to be aware of the pollution problems they have and probably are aware of the very stringent pollution controls that soon will be applied to the people living there and in surrounding counties. Pollution has an affect upon the climate. Studying climate and environmental hazards such as weather, earthquakes, and sea level rise and fall will help us decide how to be aware of potential hazards to people. In addition, understanding environmental hazards leads to better construction of buildings and better response to emergency situations. Studying climate change and environmental hazards is a very current topic in the news. Check out this NY Times article!


Question: I would like to know if there are any divers on board. If so, what are their duties?
Name:
Alex
School: A&M Consolidated Middle School, College Station TX
Response: There are several SCUBA divers on board, but they are not diving down to these reefs. These are reefs buried by sediments, and are 419 meters deep. This is far below the 100 feet that most divers can reach.