As many of you know, this summer I will be going on a fifty-day research cruise to study the Ninetyeast Ridge, a 5000 km long chain of volcanic seamounts in the Indian Ocean. I’ll be flying to Thailand in June and boarding the R/V Revelle, a large research ship owened by Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
My advisor is the head scientist for the petrology and geochemistry of this research cruise. He is in charge of making all of the preparations for dealing with the rock samples we’ll be collecting. That is, he is in charge of recruiting workers (postdocs, grad students, and
slaves interns), organizing lab supplies, shipping lab supplies by air freight to the ship, planning for the approximately 10,000 lbs. of rock sample we’ll be dredging off the ridge, booking tickets for everyone traveling, figuring out how to find the ship in various exotic ports, et cetera. Since my advisor needs to do all of these things, that means that I am in charge of many of them!
Planning an expedition of this scale is no easy undertaking! One cannot go to the store when at sea, so my advisor and I want to ensure that we have everything we need when the ship leaves port. We can’t miss anything important that will keep up from doing as much work as we can on the expedition. Why not? Because it’s costing about $1 million dollars for this expedition. That’s $1 million National Science Foundation dollars, which are taxpayer dollars, which are your dollars, if you’re a U.S. Citizen. By the way, thanks for sending me
on vacation to do important scientific research, all you taxpayers!
Recently, there’s been a major change in the plan for this expedition. There’s some good news and some bad news and then some more good news.
Good News #1:
I just booked a flight and hotel room in Phuket, Thailand. I depart from Boston on June 14th and will have two lovely days to sun myself on the beach before I need to get to work finding the ship and organizing all of our supplies. The ship departs from Phuket on June 20th.
Bad News #1:
Originally, our expedition was supposed to have an end port of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the Tamil Tigers have made this end port impossible.
Just two weeks ago, my advisor said to me, “Well, I think that we’ll be okay in Sri Lanka as long as we are in Colombo. Worst case scenario, we can just book flights from Colombo. If we end up at another port nearby, we can book a short flight to Colombo. After all, the Tamil Tigers aren’t bombing the airport or anything.”
Well, actually, the Tamil Tigers are bombing the Colombo airport.
The recent airport bombings as well as the inability to obtain port insurance for Colombo have convinced Scripps not to use Colombo as an end port. I agree with their decision, but I am a little sad not to be going to Colombo. Sri Lanka is supposed to be beautiful, and I was hoping to track down Arthur C. Clark!
Good News #2:
Instead of going to Colombo, we’re going to Male, Maldives instead. For those of you who don’t know, the Maldives are a gorgeous chain of islands south of Sri Lanka. I think I can handle the sudden change of plans.