After spending two weeks at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in Cambridge it’s safe to say I’ve learnt a lot. Perhaps the most important lesson so far is- realising just how much I don’t know. BAS has definitely given me a feel for what life would be like as a research student. I’ve spent my time in muddy labs, dark rooms and freezers, but I have to say after realising the extent of how much hard work this subject can be- I love it even more.
My project at BAS centres on attempting to distinguish between different types of diamicton. This can be described as a weakly sorted sediment. The idea, is to take a variety of data, both pre-existing, and primary, and attempt to create a criteria for telling these diamictons apart. This is often a problem in marine geology, as these deposits are usually very similar, so being able to tell different types of diamicton apart based on a set of individual characteristics would be a small triumph!
The work at BAS
My first day at BAS was spent getting familiar with the facilities, the marine cores I am working on, and doing some simple sediment description. This basically involved describing a core (image.1) based on the type of material, colour, and its characteristics. Over the rest of the week, I spent three of my days in a dark room looking at core x-rays (x-radiographs) (Image.2), and the rest of my time at BAS sub-sampling my cores to continue work at Royal Holloway (Image.3).
..It wasn’t all work though…
In between the labs I managed to attend seminars, and go on some tours of the facilities, and the other departments. My time was mostly spent in the student office, but there are definitely many other interesting sectors at BAS. Throughout the few weeks I spent there, I managed to visit the rock and fossils stores (image.4), the aquarium, have a talk on Antarctic mapping, and visit the legendary ice core facilities (turns out -25o is quite unpleasant when you’re not wearing a coat).
Overall, I think my visit was a brilliant experience. It has made me consider what sector(s) I want to continue my studies in, and think about my potential career paths. If you ever get the chance to go to the British Antarctic Survey facilities, I highly recommend it!!