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Seafloor Fault Expedition 2018 – Log 4

Steve Dobbs removes the caps and drains seawater out of the vibracore samples on the ROV Doc Ricketts.

Seafloor Fault Expedition 2018 – Log 4

Along with scientists from MBARI and the U.S. Geological Survey, we have two graduate students and a postdoctoral researcher from Stanford University on the R/V Western Flyer with us. Each is interested in something slightly different but all are eager to help out and gain first-hand experience with the many tasks required to complete this research.

Nora Nieminski is a sedimentologist working on her postdoctoral research studying sedimentary basins in the context of their tectonic histories. She focuses on understanding depositional processes such as turbidity currents and debris flows that move sediment from onshore into deep-sea environments and are recorded in the rock record. While on the R/V Western Flyer Nora is analyzing—or as scientists say, “describing”—the many push cores collected with the ROV. Push cores are clear plastic tubes that are pushed into seafloor with an ROV so that researchers can study the animals or organic material in the sediment. Making a core description involves carefully photographing and then hand-drawing each core with important details such as grain size, burrows, ripples, and clasts of mud.

Colin White is a Ph.D. student at Stanford University in the earth science department. A portion of his Ph.D. will focus on utilizing MBARI’s seafloor imagery data, as well as ROV vibracores, in an effort to understand how terraces form and evolve along the inner bends of deep-water sinuous channels. Aboard the R/V Western Flyer, he is a member of the vibracore team, where his duties involve preparing and processing the vibracores for further analysis. This includes sawing off the empty portions of partially filled aluminum core tubes, taping and capping the ends, and sampling the water contained within the seafloor sediment captured by these cores. Later, these water samples are analyzed to understand more about what processes are occurring in the seafloor sediment.

Steve Dobbs is a second-year Ph.D. student at Stanford University studying sedimentary geology. He’s interested in how submarine canyons form and their effects on both modern and ancient seafloors. Part of his research is focused on measuring and comparing dimensions of various submarine canyons that are imaged by MBARI’s mapping AUVs. On the R/V Western Flyer, Steve enjoys preparing and processing vibracore samples with Colin White (and eating all of the deliciously prepared meals).