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Science AMA Series: We’re Scientists on a Ship off of the Coast of Australia researching the climate during the Cretaceous and how it is related to plate tectonics and volcanic activity. AMA!
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The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) conducts scientific ocean drilling expeditions throughout the world’s oceans in search of clues to Earth’s structure and past. Right now we are currently in the middle of Expedition 369, sailing along parts of the southern and western coast of Australia. We are interested in finding out more about what the Earth was like during the Cretaceous Period when the Earth was experiencing an extreme greenhouse climate. During this time period, Antarctica had no ice cover and was actually attached to Australia. About 94 million years ago, they broke apart. Part of the expedition is also studying this plate tectonic movement. The scientists we have onboard who will be answering your questions include: Dr Brian Huber is one of the co-chief scientists for Expedition 369. He works at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. His research focuses on changes in global climate between 115 to 35 million years ago and the microscopic organisms called foraminifera during that time interval. Dr Richard Hobbs is the other co-chief scientist for Expedition 369. He is a professor in the Department of Earth Science at Durham University in the UK. His research focuses on understanding more about seismic waves and he’s currently involved with several different projects that will help scientists better study and understand the seismic data they collect. Dr Vivien Cumming is a freelance writer and photographer focused on bringing science to the public. She has a background in Earth sciences with a PhD from Durham University and postdoctoral research experience from Harvard and McGill Universities. Lauren O’Connor is sailing as an organic geochemist, and her role is analysing gas from core samples and determining the amount of carbonate and organic carbon in the rocks we’re drilling. She just finished her PhD at the University of Oxford. She is a palaeoclimatologist working on the Late Cretaceous (66-100 million years ago), reconstructing changes in ocean temperature, and how those temperature changes compare to changes in atmospheric CO2, ocean circulation, and the orbit of the Earth. Dr Lloyd White is a Lecturer in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Wollongong, Australia and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London. Lloyd’s research focuses on understanding how plates break apart and how mountains form in plate collision zones. The JOIDES Resolution is the only research vessel operated by the United States dedicated to scientific ocean drilling. As Us Anything!