Indonesia

The Curious World of Cancelled Stamps

Some people collect stamps, while others collect the cancellations on stamps, from “fancy cancels” to first-day issues. Within the world of cancellation collectors, there is a smaller, but no less enthusiastic, group of people who collect ship cancellations, which bear the seal of the vessel and are sometimes accompanied by the signature of its captain.

By studying the geochemistry of corals and analysing lake sediments, Goodkin has documented past sea surface temperatures and sea salt levels in Indonesia.

Surveying the Contours of an Underwater Mountain

This week, the lab was buzzing with anticipation as we approached a seamount (an underwater mountain formed by volcanic activity), a small section of which had been mapped during last year’s MEGATERA cruise. The presence of the seamount was hardly a mystery, but details about its bathymetry were. We were about to get the first good look at this distinctive feature of the Wharton Basin.

Profile Spotlight: Chef Claude Cornet

When the prospect of joining the MIRAGE team was dangled before me this spring, I was briefed on the nature of the survey we’d be conducting, the importance to the region of understanding why enormous earthquakes were occurring in the middle of a seafloor plate, and the impressive resumes of the scientists who would be on board. But in every conversation, there was always this promise — it’s a French ship, so the food is going to be amazing.

The Aceh Geohazards Project combines geology, geomorphology, history and archaeology to better understand the past occurrence of tsunami in Aceh, and the extent to which such events might have impa

Getting to the Crux of Coring (Part 3 of 3)

Obviously, no one on deck gets to see this momentous event since it’s happening 4.5 km below sea level, but the pipe’s collision with the seafloor can be followed on a monitor that tracks the tension of the polymer cable. As the coring unit makes its three-to-four hour descent, the tension on the cable is about 6.5 tons — it drops to zero when the pipe hits the seafloor, then spikes to about 11 tons as it’s pulled from the sticky mud. On the way back up, which takes another three-to-four hours, the tension is greater than it was on the way down, thanks to the weight of the mud now trapped inside the pipe.

Getting to the Crux of Coring (Part 1 of 3)

Coring is difficult work, requiring days of planning, specialised equipment, and no small amount of physical prowess. Unlike bathymetry, which is primarily experienced by staring at computer monitors for hours upon end, coring happens on deck — day or night, rain or shine. This combination of engineering know-how and man doing battle with the elements makes coring fascinating to observe.

Magnetic Anomalies in the Wharton Basin (Part 2 of 2)

One of the root causes of all this activity could be the age of the lithosphere, that ever-spreading, always-moving seafloor crust. “South of eastern Java,” Dr Dyment said, pointing to a brightly coloured map on his computer, “the lithosphere is about 120 million years old. South of western Java, it’s younger, maybe 80 million years old. But alongside Sumatra, the crust is much younger, as young as 45 million years old. And then, of course, on the other side of that, things start aging again.

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