Diving into Geology Lessons while Floating in the Indian Ocean

Earth Observatory Blog

Diving into Geology Lessons while Floating in the Indian Ocean


For students participating in the MIRAGE, every day is an opportunity to learn something new. For example, when entering data into the log book, it is an opportunity to go beyond the numbers and learn—in real time—what those numbers mean. Similarly, when students are cleaning up the bathymetry (the underwater study of the terrain of the ocean floor), attending the daily 4pm meeting, or dining with a member of the Institut Paul Emile Victor (IPEV) who they have not yet spoken with, they are free to soak up as much new information as they like.

For those who prefer a bit more structure to their learning, though, the MIRAGE has also been offering a Floating Summer School on marine geoscience. Led and organised by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur Assistant Professor Dibakar Ghosal, the Floating Summer School has been designed to augment the work of the MIRAGE in the Wharton Basin.

Assistant Professor Dibakar Ghosal.

“The topics are very relevant to this cruise,” Dr Ghosal told me when we chatted in the lab the other day. “Not all of the students on board have geological backgrounds, so I hope these talks will help them better understand why we are out here floating in the middle of the Indian Ocean.”

Fittingly, Dr Nugroho Hananto, the leader of the MIRAGE, ran the first class on 7 July 2016, giving students an overview of the mission, the work that has preceded it, and the various institutions that have made it possible. That same day, Dr Helene Leau also presented. Dr Leau is the head of the Oceanography Department at IPEV and is in charge of all scientific operations on board the R/V Marion Dufresne. For many in attendance, the highlights of her talk were the slides and detailed explanations she gave of the extensive upgrades to the ship last year in Dunkerque, France.

The second class on 9 July 2016 was also well received. For that session, Mr Yvan Reaud of IPEV explained how the CALYPSO Giant Piston Corer is assembled, how it works, and how cores are removed from pipes and preserved for analysis later on shore.

From left: Mr Yvan Reaud, Dr Helene Leau and Dr Helene Carton.Today, 11 July, two students from Ensta Bretagne in Brest, France, Mr Bertrand Beunaiche and Ms Elodie Duyck, explain the acquisition and processing techniques of bathymetry. Mr Beunaiche, Ms Duyck, and Mr Praditya Avianto have already taught numerous students aboard the Marion Dufresne how to prepare data for the researchers who will study it once the expedition ends.Mr Bertrand Beunaiche (left) and Ms Elodie Duyck.

Upcoming classes include a lecture on 13 July by Dr Jerome Dyment, a senior researcher at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP) in Paris, France, who will explain how magnetic anomalies are used to date the movements of plates and sections of lithosphere in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere. On 15 July, Dr Ghosal will present an overview on strike-slip faults and the characteristic features of subduction zones. And then, on 17 July, Dr Hananto will speak again, this time about the seismotectonics of his native Indonesia.

From left: Mr Hanjin Choe, Dr Jerome Dyment and Mr Marcus Phua.

Closing out the class offerings are lectures beginning on 19 July by Dr Helene Carton, Assistant Professor at IPGP, who is in charge of data being collected by the sub-bottom profiler on the Marion Dufresne, and was instrumental in helping choose the first core location. On 22 July, Dr Yanfang Qin, who is associated with both the Earth Observatory of Singapore and IPGP, will discuss the imaging of submarine features using control-source seismology case studies. And finally, on 25 July, Dr Rina Zuraida, a researcher at the Marine Geological Institute of Indonesia, will discuss the paleoceanographic and paleoenvironmental record found in regional coring case studies.

Dr Yanfang Qin

Although Dr Ghosal is pleased with all the classes being presented for the Floating Summer School, he does admit to having a few favourites. “I’m especially interested in the upcoming talk by Dr Carton,” Dr Ghosal said. “She’s been working on the Wharton Basin for a very long time, so she is sure to share some good insights. And I’m also looking forward to Dr Yanfang’s presentation because she’ll be talking about seismology in subduction zones, an interest of mine. I hope to learn something, too, you know.”


To continue to follow the progress of MIRAGE, please check the EOS blog throughout the month of July, and spread the word using #MIRAGEcruise.

All photographs are taken by Ben Marks, unless otherwise stated.


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