Chimneys and smoke at the bottom of the sea: signs of a fire below!

One of the most spectacular features of geology (at least to me) are black smokers. They consist of hollow conduits where hot, nearly boiling fluids exit the oceanic crust. These fluids can be white or black since they carry particles from underlying rocks. The smoke may contain valuable metals such as nickel, arsenic, copper, silver and even gold! On top of this, in the conduits or next to the chimneys, the most amazing and strange life forms can be found. All the more reason to explore what is going on there, and where we could expect systems like these to occur! Continue reading

Life on board of a scientific drilling vessel

Today, we are getting an impression of how daily life is on board of a scientific drilling vessel. At the moment Carlotta is on board the Joides Resolution, one of the scientific drilling ships of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). She is part of the Expedition 360 Southwest Indian Ridge with its goal to drill into rocks of the lowermost oceanic crust and the crust-mantle transition zone (see blogpost about the oceanic crust). The SW Indian Ridge is a very slow spreading ridge (that means that the oceanic plates diverge about 8 mm/yr), located south-east of Madagascar (see image 1). The expedition started on 30th November, leaving Colombo and will end 30th of January once Port Louis will be reached. You see, this is quite a long time she is spending at sea!

I asked Carlotta a few question about how it is to be part of such an adventure and how it feels to work on a ship that moves all the time with the same group of people for 2 months!

Image 1: Map showing the start (Colombo) and end (Port Louis) points of the cruise (in orange) as well as the transition (yellow dots) from Sri Lanka southwards to the drilling spot (dot in red). Map taken from IODP.

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The Crystal Society; An introduction

Many strange stories can be heard on university benches during coffee breaks. During my undergraduate studies, a friend used to make fun by saying: “Minerals are devious and have their own secret organization that will rule the world one day”. As it became a daily joke, I have a lot of memories with many crazy theories we used to make up regarding strategies that minerals develop for world domination. All of our humoristic theories, though, were inspired by human behavior and actions. So, while I was wondering how I could deliver the complexity of mineral crystals, I thought trying to equate them with humans. So here, I would like to introduce you to the “The Crystal Society”; a society that is not a product of imagination like my youthful theories, but a real existing civilization with many similarities to ours. Continue reading