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12 August, 2001

A Rocky Road adams journal 08/12/01

Last night we broke some serious ice. Around 10:00pm, just at my bedtime, we hit an area that was heavily iced over, and my night became most uncomfortable. When the ship encounters such barriers, it tries to break through it. It has 4 engines, 2 of which are normally in use. A third engine may be required for more power on larger ice floes, which helps the ship to proceed with more force. If this doesn't break the ice, the ship will back up and try again. Sometimes it takes several tries to break through. This was the case last night, and I didn't sleep a wink. Cabinets kept flying open and an ironing board flew across the room. It was quite a ride!

Today we begin our intensive rock collection program. Up to now, we have 7 completed dredges. We have used up all of the space in the lab to put the rocks collected from these dredges. Therefore, we must move them into well-labeled buckets to take back to the US for scientists to study. We will end up with half of the rocks, and the German scientists will end up with the other half. The same will go for the samples collected on the Polarstern.

There are several scientists on board who are too anxious to wait until we get back to begin the analysis of the rocks we've collected. They are taking the glassy obsidian, referred to as "glass" and analyzing its chemical properties. It is a long process that begins with picking pieces of this volcanic glass off of the basalt, which involves tweezers and a good eye. Then the glass is placed under a microscope and only clean/fresh looking glass is selected (the ocean water can cause weathering on the glass and this would an give incorrect analysis of it). This nice glass is then melted in a small furnace. When it is a red-hot liquid, it is removed from the furnace and immediately poured into nitric acid to form a solution. The solution is then put through a chemical analysis and the results lead to conclusions about the melting processes (such as how fast or slow the mantle melted to form the rocks that we're collecting).

The weather continues to be very pleasant here in the Arctic. We have neared Greenland and more wildlife is being spotted. Many polar bear tracks are visible in the snowy ice, and seals are becoming a common sight.


Latitude: 82 52 N

Longitude: 7 03 W

Air temperature: 34 F

Water temperature: 29 F

Kerstin opens the furnace door to remove the melted volcanic glass. She will then pour it into nitric acid to form a solution for analysis. <>

Paul picks through the glass (obsidian) to obtain the best samples for analysis. <>

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