Blog Projects

How to go to sea as a paleomagnetist, part 2

What? You really wanted to know how I got picked to go to sea?

You might say it was Facebook.

Last spring, the Facebook page for the drillship JOIDES Resolution (“the JR”) posted a call for a paleomagnetist from the US to sail on an expedition to the Bengal Fan. Since that description fits me (and not that many other people), I sent in an application soon after. A few months later I heard that I got the position.

But that would be unfair: one does not simply apply for a position on the JR. I had to read up on what the chief scientists were planning to study, consider what my own contribution might be to the project, write a proposal to convince The Powers that Be that I was the real deal, and back that up with a list of all of my relevant academic work (my CV). To even get to that point, it took me all of college and several years of grad school to know what the JR was, and to be able to call myself a paleomagnetist. Honestly, though, I’m still sometimes not even sure I’m qualified to go on this cruise.

On the other hand, there is a lot you can learn about the JR, our cruise, and what it means to be a paleomagnetist with very little investment. The JR’s blog and website are an excellent way to start. Right now, the ship is not too far from where we’ll be drilling, on a different part of the Bengal Fan. There will be posts about our cruise when we are at sea. I’ll be posting some background here about Earth’s magnetic field and why it’s important for this particular cruise. I’m also planning to write a few posts about the rise of the Himalaya, the collision of India and Eurasia, and the Asian Monsoon.

And then, when the cruise is over, if you’re a UW student and would like to kick your involvement up a notch, you can work with me on samples that we bring home from the drill sites. You don’t need much training – most of the students who work in my lab start just after taking their first geology class. But being involved in research as a college student is a great way to work toward going to sea on a research vessel like the JR!

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