Creativity in the field

Jun 13, 13 Creativity in the field

Being in the field or at sea is one of the perks of being an oceanographer, at least for some of us. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, a lot of planning and preparation comes into play because, just like camping, what you have with you is all you have and nobody wants to carry around more material than needed.

Anyone who has gone in the field regularly, however, will tell you that no amount of planning will prevent the unexpected from happening. This is when creativity can make or break an experiment. One instance when creativity proved to be useful was on a recent research expedition on board the RV SONNE. After almost 7 weeks at sea, sampling supplies on ship were running low. To sample sediment cores, cut-off syringes were used to draw some sediment and were then capped. Unfortunately, we ran out of caps and cores were still being collected.

As I was thinking of a simple way to cap the syringes without contaminating the sediment with the glue from the tape, it occurred to me that lab gloves ought to be made of material that would not contaminate the samples. We ended up cutting the fingers of some lab gloves (we had plenty of those), in order to pull them over the syringes and secure them with tape. This was simple enough and served our purpose!

The true syringe lid on the left, the improvised lid on the right.