Although my initial reaction to the February 27th earthquake in Chile was an anxious mixture of “OMG how horrible for my project!” and “OMG how horrible for the affected Chileans!”, I have since developed a more nuanced view on this event and on the subsequent changes to the Ocean 443/4 cruise plan.
My initial anxiety was partly due to the geographic, methodological, and collaborative nature of my proposed research on atmospheric and oceanic methane. More specifically, I wanted to study in Chile, using a GC-FID aboard the RVV Thompson, with help from Texas A&M professor Shari Yvon-Lewis. Once I learned that we would be going to Bamfield instead of Chile, I knew none of these three aspects of my research would be possible. Furthermore, I assumed I would need to change my project entirely.
However, I am happy to say that my original project is still happening, albeit with some tweaks. Although I am still very sad that the earthquake in Chile happened, the generous advice and help from other UW oceanographers, as well as the awesomeness of Bamfield, have made for an overall positive experience. When I talked with Rick about how I needed a GC-FID; he found a workable substitute in Jeff Richey’s lab; when I emailed Eric Olsen for advice on sampling methane, he speedily sent a detailed reply even though he is in Guam; and when I asked Johnny Stutsman for help acquiring mercuric chloride, he prepared some for me and included a pipette, Kimwipes, tape, and gloves to boot. Although I definitely did some work packing and researching on my own, I could not have kept my methane project without their help.
Now, with regard to Bamfield, I seriously love this place even though I have only been here for 24 hours. The drive up was rough (75 km of gravelly road punctuated by the occasional huge logging truck) but very pretty (lots of rivers, trees, ocean). At the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, the view of Barkley Sound is amazing, the dorms comfy, the lab spacious, and the research pretty successful so far.
I’m sure that there will be some unforeseen glitch in my sampling analysis, or writer’s block regarding my thesis, but for now, things are pretty good.