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Superstorm Sandy Rapid Response Mission: Field Blog

Superstorm Sandy In The Field: A Rapid Response Mission

Photo of The Big City.

January 15, 2013 - Rolling Through The City

Hello again! It's been a few days since I've written, but there's a good reason, I promise. We came in Saturday and tied the boat up in Jersey, planning to go into Manhattan for the day. I got ready for my day in The Big City, put on real clothes (as opposed to field clothes), even put in my contacts (I'd been in my glasses, out of laziness, for a few days). I was so excited to actually be in these places that I had seen on TV. I wanted to eat everything, see everything, and just generally soak up The City. I was ready to be amazed.

Photo of Steffen having fun.

Now, everyone knows about seasickness, and those who have read my previous entries know that I have escaped it. I was golden, no seasickness at all. I felt sorry for my poor, green colleagues, but was at the same time quite happy that I was not among them. But alas, I was not to get away completely unscathed. I (and perhaps some of you as well) was previously unaware of an ailment known as "dock rock." I am now intimately aware, and so you will be too.

Imagine getting off a boat after being on the water for roughly six days, feeling great, and then wham! You have been hit by a wave. That's the only way I can describe it. The entire world rolls around you, in continuous, slow motion, and your stomach rolls with it. I almost fell over, just trying to stand on the dock. I may have even temporarily inconvenienced a realtor in his waterside office for use of his restroom in order to avoid making a public display. But as soon as we got in a cab and started driving, I was ok (apparently motion helps). My stomach had settled, but as soon as we got out of the cab, the rolling started again, but that was not about to ruin my day in The Big City.

As I rolled through Chelsea, I saw clothing stores, restaurants, bars, banks, lots of dogs, and about 400 pizza places. These New Yorkers must have a thing about pizza. Maybe it's their version of chicken fried steak (if you're not from the South and don't get that reference, its ok). We reached our lunch destination, which was pizza, of course. We visited the World Trade Center Memorial, walked around the city, and Steffen made friends with Homer. We had the most amazing dinner in Little Italy and made it back to our boat without incident. It was a great day in Manhattan, but I was ready to get back to the science!

Photo of sediment samples.

Remember those samples we took last week? Those are now ready to be analyzed. We can't do everything on board (ex: textural analysis, petrology, etc...) but we did what we could. Photo of Cassandra studying the sediment samples. Beth Christensen is our resident sedimentologist, and she taught me how to do Munsell's color analysis. Basically, it's matching the color of the sediment to a color patch from Munsell's book. Sounds simple, right? But there are oh so many colors, and they're so much alike! Going through the pages was like a game, back and forth, trying to get the best match.

Actually, while describing the sediments, I had an epiphany. I think "the game" is why I love science so much. Geology is a very complicated puzzle, and I get to play Sherlock Holmes trying to figure out "who done it." Photo of a porthole on the Sea Wolf. Only the puzzle is Earth and the "who done it" is any one of Mother Nature's many wondrous processes. Sometimes the processes are slow, taking millions of years to show any appreciable superficial difference; sometimes they're catastrophic, changing the surface of the earth in seconds, setting off chain reactions worldwide. Our job is to find the clues, sniff out possible suspects and rule them out as more data are gathered. The thrill of finding the culprit, hundreds, millions, or billions of years later is why we love what we do.

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