Meet the Students

South Georgia Island
The stunning beauty and grandeur of South Georgia.

The teacher becomes the student and all is right with the world. One
of the great joys on this expedition has been to learn from the
students. Currently on board are six students from UTIG, from an
undergraduate senior, to two recent graduates, one with a masters, one
working on their masters and a Ph.D. candidate. It is this group of
future scientists that have been steadfast in helping me learn the basic
foundations of geology, and their patience has been amazing.

For this research expedition the students have been broken up into
teams of two with each team covering an eight hour shift. It is their
responsibility to record and document the data coming in on all the
computers from all the equipment (the multibeam, Knudsen and seismic).

The control room, and the collection of data
Every second of every day, data is being collected. See if you can figure out what each display represents.

It’s not a glamorous job, but it is a vital job. The scientists are
here to collect data, and the students have been an integral part in
collecting and decoding that data. Tonight I talked with Joel and Julie,
they are the 8:00 pm to the 4:00 am shift.

Each of the UTIG students comes with a different story, a background
that makes them perfect for their jobs aboard the vessel. Joel is a
graduate student studying “mud rocks.” I know, I was a bit befuddled as
well, and immediately wanted to know more. Mud rocks, or as many call
them, shales, are not as well understood as Joel would like, hence his
thesis. Joel has a great sense of humor and believes that since there
is not a lot of research available on particle size, distribution, and
mechanical behavior in the sub surface of mud rocks, then he should make
this information available. Joel also acknowledges that there is more
interest today in mud rocks than ever before due to changes in
technology and availability of gas and oil products.

The faces of future scientists
Joel and Julie working the night shift.

Julie finished her undergraduate degree this last spring and talked
with me about her thesis on movement of the Hubbard GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity. in Alaska.
Amazing, as everywhere we looked on South Georgia there were glaciers,
and in every dredge we picked up drop stones. In case you have forgotten,
drop stones are rocks that have been moved from their original locations
due to their presence in glaciers that have calved. Julie’s specialty
is also seismic, looking at the sea floor interpreting the data and
learning from evidence. As our cruise has been predominantly seismic,
Julie has been an amazing asset in interpreting the data. It has also
been great to watch Julie, as she is currently looking at graduate
sponsors and programs that will help her become even more knowledgeable
in her field of study.

South Georgia Glacier
One of many glaciers on the island of South Georgia. And as this glacier calves this is how the ocean floor is littered with drop stones.

I feel very fortunate to have worked with this amazing group of
students. They have graciously answered all my questions and helped me
to learn more about geology of the Scotia Sea and its ecological

South Georgia Island
A panorama included multiple glaciers on South Georgia.

I started this journal twelve hours ago. All the scientific equipment
is now currently on board, we are no longer collecting data, and are steaming
back to Punta Arenas at a steady rate of 10 knots. I have mixed
feelings. There is still so much to learn, but for now I will have to
work on planning dissemination. Knowledge is lost if not shared.

RV Nathaniel B. Palmer
Research Vessel Ice Breaker Class Nathaniel B. Palmer, heading back to Punta Arenas, Chile.


Justine James

Hi Ms. Worrsa,I saw the picturse that you post, they look awsome. I hope you have a safe trip coming back. My question is how cold was it when u where there? What did you have to wear when its cold?