Question: When the weather is bad, like you have been experiencing this week, can the ship continue to drill? Do you have to set out more anchors to help keep the ship steady?
Name:
Tara
School: Navasota Jr. High, Navasota TX
Response: Tara, drilling was stopped for a little while last week because the drill they were using could not be used in heavy seas. Most of the time they continue drilling. This ship does not use anchors except sometimes when docking; she uses thrusters and two screws. The ship has twelve thrusters, six attached and six retractable. The dynamic positioning control room is quite interesting. There is someone constantly on duty watching computer images where the ship is in relation to the drilling hole and ready to make any adjustments in moving the ship. There is an acoustic beacon by the hole that sends messages to the hydrophones near the surface, which in turn communicate with computers that activate the thrusters to move the ship back into position. Here they are contending with both winds and current. One knot of current equals 30 knots of wind so when you have both current and high winds, there is more movement.


Question: We would like to know what school you are from and how you got picked to work on this project?
Name:
Demetrius and Drakus
School: Marlin Middle School, Marlin TX
Response: I was chosen for this project based on my background, my communication skills, and my enthusiasm for this project. My background has included several years of middle school teaching with experience both in and out of the classroom setting. My excitement about the science going on here has given me a great opportunity to share it with you.


Question: Do the members of the crew (including yourself) ever get to go scuba diving while on board the JOIDES Resolution?
Name:
Cindy
School: Marlin Middle School, Marlin 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. One of the Paleontologists, Dr. Pamela Muller, did go diving at the Great Barrier Reef before the trip started. Others are going to various places to dive before returning home. I have done some diving, (those are my pictures on the slides) but I did not dive on the Great Barrier Reef because of the limited time I was there.


Question: We have recently studied the Relative Time Scale. How does this relate to your studies?
Name:
Alexandria
School: Carrizo Springs Jr.High, Carrizo TX
Response: The Relative Time Scale is very important to the science being conducted here on the JOIDES Resolution. Every core that is recovered is studied based on the principles of the Relative Time Scale. The Principle of Superposition, for example, states that unaltered sediments on the bottom were deposited before the sediments lying above them. In the broadcast lesson on geologic time, the results from the ship showed that there was a section of sediments representing a drowned reef underneath a section of sediments deposited in deep water. On top of that, there is another section of sediments that indicates another reef was building. Piecing together this history of the geology uses the Relative Time Scale.


Question: Are there any good coral reefs close to any of the Texas coasts?
Name:
Mayra
School: Navasota Jr. High, Navasota TX
Response: Mayra, the closest coral reefs are the Flower Garden Banks about 70 miles off the coast of Galveston. This is our National Marine Sanctuary. You can locate more information about them on the web at National Marine Sanctuaries. To see these reefs, you really have to be a SCUBA diver because they are deep reefs--some seventy feet to one hundred feet. This usually requires a night ride out in a boat usually out of Freeport, diving during the day, and another trip back the next night. You can view maps of Flower Garden Banks on the web. They have lots of other interesting material related to the seas and what you can find in them.


Question: What do scientists look for when trying to determine climatic changes in core samples? What elements? How do they appear in sediment samples?
Name:
Ms. Linsley-Kennedy's Geography class
School: Bellaire High School, Houston TX
Response: Climate variations affect patterns of ocean circulation as well as atmospheric circulation. For example, a cooler, dryer climate can result in more wind-blown dust from some continents being deposited in ocean sediments. This windblown dust may contain very fine quartz particles, and even freshwater diatoms from dry lake beds! A warmer, wetter climate would produce more water-based erosion of the land, and deposit larger quantities of silt and sand out into ocean environments. One mineral in ocean sediments that is a product of erosion is magnetite. By using magnetic sensors on our ship, we can detect changes in the amount of magnetite through the cores, which may be the result of climatic changes.  Variations in mineral content in our core samples can also be detected using a microscope for visual analysis, or by using x-ray equipment (see the mineral data from x-ray analysis that was presented in our Broadcast #3, on Sediments). Changes in ocean circulation also affect the ocean sediments. Ocean plankton, such as the foraminifera and calcareous nannoplankton we showed you in Broadcast #4 (Geologic Time: How  Old is Old?) have environmental preferences. For example, some species of foraminifera may prefer warmer waters with less nutrients, whereas other species of foraminifera prefer cooler, more nutrient rich  waters. As these plankton are carried along ocean currents, their fossil remains, in the form of calcite shells, are deposited on the seafloor. When ocean currents shift position in response to climate change, the plankton shift too, and their fossils are deposited on different regions of the seafloor. When paleontologists look at these microscopic fossils in our sediment cores, they not only can determine the age of the sediments, they can also see changes in the species that are the result of past changes in water
conditions (such as temperature, salinity, chemistry) over the drill site.


Question: Is it hard to work such long hours on a shift and is the work hard? Do the scientists ever get bored or not have enough to do if the samples that day don't pertain to their field of study?
Name:
Brittny
School: Navasota Jr. High, Navasota TX
Response: : Brittny, it is not hard to work long hours here because there is something going on all the time. If you are busy, you are not bored. Also, keep in mind, that this is for only two months so you want to accomplish as much as possible during that time. As far as it being hard work physically, some of the techs who handle the cores probably are happy to see the end of some of their days when the cores are coming in rapidly because they have to move them from the cat walk to the lab, slice them when they are ready, photograph them, and then box and store them when the scientists are finished with their tests. I do not think any of the scientists ever have time to get bored; they have reports to write and meetings to attend in addition to their work on the cores. Almost everything here pertains to the field of the study of the scientists out here; that is why they are here. The overall project is of interest to them and they may find something within it that is of special interest to them. If someone needs a break from what he/she is doing, there always is something else that may need to be done such as collecting samples from the working cores or grinding rock to make slides for further study. This is what I do when the computer screen seems to start getting out of focus or I make my rounds to ask questions of the scientists to get answers for you students; this usually happens about 2:00 in the morning.


Question: Do you collect a second coring sample from sites already recorded and why?
Name:
Devon
School: Carrizo Springs Jr.High, Carrizo TX
Response: Devon - yes, we often get multiple cores from the same site. The most important reason for this is that there are small gaps between the cores as they are recovered. When we core a second site, we can make sure that the cores start and end in different places, so that we have a complete rock record when we combine them. Also, using different drill bits and other machinery might reduce the amount of core recovered from a particular site. If we drill more than one hole, then we achieve greater overall recovery in our samples. Some cores are drilled in order to bury monitoring equipment, such as seismometers, and these holes are more shallow than the total rock record that we would like to sample. So deeper holes are drilled at these sites so we can return rock samples.