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On 1 October, Kirsty Edgar, a Research Fellow in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, set sail on the Joides Resolution from Hobart, Australia as one of an international team of scientists participating in International Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 369: Australian Climates and Tectonics.

This expedition will be drilling marine sediments from offshore southern and western Australia to uncover the details of how and when Australia split from Antarctica, and the consequences for ocean circulation, global climate and the evolution of life. In particular, its role on the rise and fall of the Cretaceous 'super greenhouse' climate.

Ship at Hobart

Ship at Hobart

Kirsty is sailing as a planktic foraminiferal biostratigrapher, utilising the origination and extinction of the microscopic marine protists foraminifera to date the sediments during drilling but also make inferences about the environmental conditions existing in the ancient oceans under which these sediments formed. These techniques are the same as those widely utilised in the hydrocarbon industry or for any subsurface works where knowing what you’re drilling into and maintaining a particular position in the geological column is important.

So far the expedition has encountered high seas (up to 19 foot waves!) leading the scientific team to suffer severe bouts of seasickness but things are now looking up as the seas are calming and the first drill site is about to be reached…