The “Jurassic Quiet Zone” is the name of a portion of the Earth’s crust which formed in the period around 180 million years ago and now constitutes the seafloor under part of the Pacific ocean. It is called “quiet” because unlike the rest of the crust, the geomagnetic record here is weak and difficult to analyze. This record, which consists of the measurable patterns in magnetic properties of the crust resulting from the gradual and continual oscillation in the Earth’s magnetic field, is of crucial importance to geophysicists who want to establish a timeline of reference points against which the age of various of the Earth’s structural features can be compared. Because the JQZ is the oldest and most difficult area to understand magnetically, it is of particular interest to scientists including us.
is a collaboration between scientists and students from Michigan State University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of Houston, and more. We will spend 35 days at sea collecting magnetic, bathymetric, and gravimetric data to significantly improve the state of the scientific record of the magnetic history of the JQZ. The science mission will be enabled by the crew and facilities provided by the R/V Sikuliaq, a National Science Foundation research vessel that was built this year for operations like this one. Funded by NSF, our cruise will produce data that will appear in scientific journals and serve as valuable resources for geophysicists conducting further research.
In the meantime,
will serve as our conversation with you. As professional scientists and science students, we want to communicate what it’s like, day-to-day, to be involved in marine geophysics research. These cruises are exciting opportunities for undergraduate students, graduate students, and established scientists to experience operating state-of-the-art instruments and gathering and processing lots of important data. More than that, this mission is a chance to spend a month getting used to life at sea for the first time (for some of us), return to one of our favorite places on Earth (for the veterans), and share for a short time the daily experience of the crew of professional sailors who will return to the sea while the rest of us are coming back to our classrooms, labs, and offices.
Later, you can read about our scientific results in peer-reviewed publications. For now, we hope you can join us in this experience by following this blog, which will feature the science, sailing, and socialization of our foray into marine geophysics. Stay tuned for more about our ship, the Sikuliaq, who we are and where we’re from, and what it’s like to spend a month doing science at sea.