Life in a Floating Summer School

10 Oct 2017

On board the R/V Marion Dufresne, the daily rhythm of life is determined by our shifts, which can be very intense. We work with bathymetric data eight hours per day, cleaning and processing the data received.

Captain Florent Landreau observes as higher resolution bathymetry fills in the blanks of previous elevation models in this area (Source: EOS/Monika Naranjo Gonzales)

We generate digital models that show the different elevations of the seafloor, compute the reflectivity of the seafloor, and analyse maps while our colleagues monitor seismic acquisition and fill in the log book every 15 minutes. One of the most useful takeaways from this is that we learn how to use key software, like Seismic Unix (for seismic data processing) or Caraibes (for bathymetry data processing).

Every day at 4pm we have a meeting to update the entire research team. It is followed by a lecture, which lasts about two hours. Thanks to these regular lectures, nearly every researcher participating in this cruise will have the chance to give a lecture about his or her area of expertise. This is useful, as it allows us to learn and widen our perspective.

Marie-Laure Fournasson, Chief Scientists Satish Singh and Dr Kyle Bradley discuss possible stories to explain the geological features found during the survey (Source: EOS/Monika Naranjo Gonzales)

Besides shifts and lectures, there is one other aspect of our days onboard R/V Marion Dufresne which is very important, and which we look forward to: the meals. Three times a day, we sit at fancy tables with white tablecloths, wine glasses, and two sets of cutlery as we dine on three different courses.

Usually an entire meal – from starter, to main course, cheese, and dessert – takes a full hour to finish, and we make sure to savour all of the delicious flavours that come out of the galley.

Being on French ship has many advantages, great food is one of them (Source: EOS/Monika Naranjo Gonzales)

This cruise has brought together people from many countries such as China, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Timor Leste, and Vietnam. With perhaps more differences than similarities, we have fascinating conversations about our diverse cultures and backgrounds. Some people find it challenging to familiarise themselves with the French and Malagasy influences in the food.

Once we have attended to the main priorities: sleeping, eating, and working, we get to enjoy other aspects of life on a ship. Foosball and darts are available in the dining room; we are all working hard to improve our foosball skills!

Marion Dufresne is a French ship, and as such, cuisine meets a high bar. Delicious coconut biscuits light up the atmosphere during long shifts (Source: EOS/Monika Naranjo Gonzales)We also play cards and learn games from each other’s cultures. There are two guitars, which keep us entertained during the daily aperitif that takes place on the bar. Yes, you read that right, there is a bar on board and also a wine cellar.

In the conference room where we have daily lectures, we also watch movies and enjoy the cinema-like atmosphere. Last but not least, we have a swimming pool. There is a container full of sea water in the front deck, where – when the weather is calm – you can plunge into the still water and forget that you are on a boat.

Although from very different backgrounds, Filomena and Marie-Laure have become good friends and an efficient team, cleaning and processing data for eight hours a day (Source: EOS/Monika Naranjo Gonzales)

One of our favourite parts of living on board a ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean are the sunsets and sunrises. There is no land or other vessels in sight, it is just the R/V Marion Dufresne and the wide ocean. This voyage is a priceless experience and we feel extremely fortunate to be part of it.

Follow the progress of MIRAGE II between 25th September and 20th October 2017 on the EOS blog, and spread the word using #MIRAGEcruise.


Geographic Area

Wharton Basin



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