921 meters later, I’m home from Bremen, DE

So yes. It’s been a busy month and a half. For a good portion of December I was in the UK for the annual Christmas trip. So that was all fun.

But January was geology business through and through. For three days I was in Houston for a conference that Exxon held for grant recipients and international scholars, and that was a surprisingly fun time. I got to hang out with one of the other grad students from CU a little – Aya, who is from Lebanon – and she introduced me to all of the other international scholars from the middle east. It was fantastic to get to talk with all of them. I also had a poster at the conference (it was pretty and contained no actual data!) and Exxon conducted a short course for us all as well.

The short course was kind of an interesting experience, since a lot of it focused on very basic petroleum reservoir concepts. It was a good reminder that many geologists really don’t encounter that kind of thing until after they’re done with grad school, if ever. And also a reminder to me that I’m still total crap at seismic interpretation.

A day after the Exxon conference, I flew to Bremen, Germany, because it was time to process all of the core (921 meters of it!) that we drilled in the Bighorn Basin last summer. It was a lot of hard work. We mostly did 10-11 hour days with only a lunch break, which was normally less than an hour – and we didn’t get weekends. We were a 7 days a week operation.

I was the little cog in the process that did some general core description of each newly split core. It was definitely a new experience for me – I’ve done core description before, but never in that kind of situation. New cores were constantly coming in, so basically I had only 10-15 minutes with a core at most (normally less). The emphasis was on breaking the cores down into units that could be given a description with the important major features highlighted. There weren’t a lot of places where I had a chance to pinpoint specific features.

So that was tough, and stressful. These cores were also a lot of mudstone, and a lot of paleosols. There were very few sharp contacts. Almost everything, from color to lithology, changed gradationally, and that made picking where to draw the line very difficult. There were also a lot of drab intervals that just made me crazy, because they were on this weird border between being sandy siltstone and silty sandstone and I just had to pick one with a very limited amount of inspection time.

But the cool part of my job was that I got to see almost every centimeter of those cores (except for the few that would get done while I was at lunch) and I saw some really, really cool stuff! There are some pictures of the most fantastic things linked below. But overall, it was a really cool experience, and it has confirmed for me that I really would enjoy that as a job. With the caveat that normal work days and weekends would be necessary.

With all the core split, now we’re into the next phase of the project, which is going to be the real meat. Half of the core (the working half – I described the archive half) was extensively sampled for the various scientists in the project. Mary and I will be getting our samples soon, so we’ll be able to start looking at grain size. Extremely high resolution image scans of the core were done as well (along with color analysis that should be way better than me frowning at the Munsell color chart and bitching that none of them look right) so I think I’ll be looking at those in more detail, and then I have a feeling it’s back to Adobe Illustrator and I’ll be spending more weeks of my life drawing lots of little boxes. I’m excited to meet with Mary on Wednesday to see what direction I should be headed in next. And soon I should finally have a thesis topic hammered down! Which is exciting, and scary.

Anyway, here’s the pictures, enjoy! We ended up working so hard and so fast that we had three days off during the course of the trip, and were able to use those days to do actual tourist-type things. So there are a lot of pictures of Bremen as well. I had a lot of fun, and I already miss all of the other people from the work group. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in the near future, maybe at AGU!

Pictures

Pictures of Bremen
Pictures from our day trip to Bremerhaven
Pictures from work time at Marum – lots of pretty rocks.
Video of a ship leaving the docks at Bremerhaven because this was the first time I’d actually seen something like this up close and thought it was insanely cool.
Video of the adorable puffer fish at the Klimathaus in Bremerhaven
Here, listen to the horrible noise the reefer door at Marum made every single time it was opened, though after a while you just stop hearing it.
Video of a core being split which takes a long time, but it was near the start of work so Will and Rike weren’t that fast at it.

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