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Roots School System, Pakistan joined JOIDES Resolution - Expedition 342 Paleogene Newfoundland Sediment Drifts

The JOIDES Resolution was in the North Atlantic Ocean on Expedition 342: Paleogene Newfoundland Sediment Drifts from June 2 – August 1, 2012. Drilling not far from the site where Titanic went down exactly 100 years ago, the scientists pulled up some fascinating cores exploring the past climate conditions that eventually led to the iceberg that sank the “unsinkable” ship.

Students and teachers of Roots School System, Pakistan skyped to share and learn from the Education officer onboard, Caitlin Scully from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA and the co-chiefs on 6th June, 2012. JOIDES Resolution Education Officers have the opportunity to learn shipboard science alongside the expedition’s science party and translate their learning experiences for students, families and the general public through creation of blogs, videos, social networking sites, live video conferencing from the ship and classroom activities.

Annick the Logger (left) and Caitlin Scully (right), the fearless Education Officer for Expedition 342, on the helideck of JR

Annick the Logger (left) and Caitlin Scully (right), the fearless Education Officer for Expedition 342, on the helideck of JR

Annick the Logger (left) and Caitlin Scully (right), the fearless Education Officer for Expedition 342, on the helideck of JR

In 1912 the Titanic collided with an iceberg in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. Now, 100 years later, Expedition 342 strives to discover past climate conditions that led to the Arctic ice that sank the unsinkable, trying to reconstruct the history of the ocean and climate in the region. Today, the Titanic rests on a bed of sediment that was deposited after the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago. The JOIDES Resolution (the JR is a scientific ocean drilling ship) passed the Titanic to collect samples from the Paleogene (65-23 million years ago), a time when global climate was in a state of change.

The education program focuses on the exploration, the very nature and process of science, and careers. Since March 2009, live ship-to-shore conferences from the JOIDES Resolution have inspired more than 10,000 students, teachers, and museum visitors. The live video events lift science out of the textbooks and allow students to learn about cutting edge research and careers by talking directly to scientists, technicians, and crew as they live and work aboard the vessel. Requests for interactive, 30-45-minute Skype chats are handled on a first come, first served basis. There were 7 paleontologists on this expedition, two each to study calcareous nannofossils, benthic foraminifera and planktic foraminifera and Caitlin Scully, the Education Officer the sole radiolarian specialist.

The sediment being collected on Expedition 342 records Paleogene changes in both global climate as well as shifting ocean currents. These sediments act as an archive. By studying the chemistry and fossils within sediment samples, the Expedition 342 science party will be able to recreate the ice-free “hothouse earth” of the PETM, the subsequent cooling of the planet, and the eventual creation of Arctic sea ice – the very ice that sank the unsinkable Titanic.

The map shows the 'home ports' of the international science crew of Expedition 342 in BLUE and the drilling locations in GREEN!

The map shows the "home ports" of the international science crew of Expedition 342 in BLUE and the drilling locations in GREEN!

It began with a period of extreme warmth known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (the PETM). High temperatures and warm oceans created a “hothouse earth”. The planet got so hot, so quickly, that life was profoundly changed. Plants flourished in the warm humid environment. Forests and swamps extended to the poles because there was little to no ice on the planet. On land, mammals thrived and the first whales, horses, and primates appeared. In contrast, the warming oceans experienced changing currents and a mass extinction of plankton in the deep sea.

As millions of years passed, plate tectonics shifted the continents. As the land moved, so did the oceans currents. These new and changing ocean currents helped to cool the seas and eventually the planet. After the PETM, the cooling planet was interrupted by many more periods of warmth, yet none had the same profound global effects.

Roots School System, Pakistan joined JOIDES Resolution - Expedition 342 Paleogene Newfoundland Sediment Drifts   

The ship is like a big construction site, with its own cranes and massive machinery for moving the huge drilling tools and pipe around. 5000m (3 miles) of pipe is hung through a hole in the ship to reach the seafloor.


Roots School System, Pakistan joined JOIDES Resolution - Expedition 342 Paleogene Newfoundland Sediment Drifts Roots School System, Pakistan joined JOIDES Resolution - Expedition 342 Paleogene Newfoundland Sediment Drifts

Roots School System, Pakistan joined JOIDES Resolution - Expedition 342 Paleogene Newfoundland Sediment Drifts   

Once the pipe is in place, a wire with a core barrel at the end is sent down through it and pushed into the mud to collect a long tube of sediment from the seafloor.

The core is cleaned, measured and cut into smaller sections. The sections are split in half and laid out on a table. They describe the color and the texture of the sediment and take samples to figure out what it is made of.