Monday, 14 March 2016

Come Sail Onshore

The second ECORD training course: The Virtual Drillship Experience was held at MARUM, Bremen, from the 7th to the 11th of March 2016. This course originated from the very successful ECORD Summer School, also hosted by Bremen, that includes “Virtual Ship” sessions.  The concept, welcomed by the scientific drilling community, gives participants the opportunity to learn about expedition workflow and various analyses performed during offshore research drilling projects. The focus is more process related than the sister Summer Schools that always centre on one of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) scientific themes.  In response to the high demand and interest, The Virtual Drillship Experience was created. It is a unique occasion for scientists interested in sailing to become, or to become once more, familiar with IODP. MARUM is the ideal location to host this event: as it is one of the three IODP core repositories, with more than 150 km of cores, as well as laboratories and facilities we can find on a drillship.

Over 5 days, 29 participants from around the world and from different scientific disciplines were immersed in shipboard activities; covering physical properties, core logging, sediment visual core description and smear slide analysis, high-resolution linescan imaging and color scanning, biostratigraphy, pore water acquisition and analysis, and finally, hard rock core description. To guarantee optimal interaction with the tutors and the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with the equipment, participants were divided into 3 groups, rotating between the different labs and practical exercises. Tutors included many experienced senior scientists with significant experience in offshore expeditions, ensuring genuine and relevant examples. Early career researchers Anna Joy Drury (postdoc, MARUM) and Erwan Le Ber (IODP research associate, University of Leicester) also had the opportunity to participate in teaching, giving an introduction to core physical properties, with practicals on a multi-sensor core logger (MSCL) system and on discrete samples (Moisture and Density, Pycnometer).

Sampling session for Moisture and Density
The Virtual Drillship Experience is not only about participants familiarising themselves with offshore workflow and the different data acquisition methods. Our apprentice sailors also had to use their skills and knowledge acquired during the virtual drillship experience to interpret downhole logging data with Sarah Davies (University of Leicester) or to generate core correlations and age models. Participants were also introduced to the more general aspects of IODP; including curation, data management, sample requests and proposal writing. In 5 days, attendees covered the most fundamental aspects of shipboard activities, and we now wish them “fair winds and following seas”.

Click here for more information on The Virtual Drillship Experience, and here for other ECORD Courses and Summer Schools.

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