Greetings fellow Benningtonians. I am missing you all, but am having a happy and productive sabbatical in Bremen, Germany.
Contrary to some reports, I have been up to more than touring and sampling food & drink. Though, I have done a good amount of that. You might ask, why did Tim go on sabbatical to the drizzly, wind-swept plains of northern Germany, ~150 km from the nearest rock outcrop. This is a fair question.
About 15 years ago I began studying major faults at mid-ocean ridges, which are the centers from which new ocean crust is generated in Earth’s ocean basins. These faults very similar to faults in the regions of the southwestern US that I had previously worked. I participated in several research cruises that sampled rocks from the Atlantic seafloor, and discovered interesting parallels between fault activity at mid-ocean ridges and continental rift zones. I have subsequently become interested in how fluids and magma use these faults as conduits to exchange ions between ocean crust and seawater. This activity may be an important control on global seawater chemistry and the carbon cycling.
My interests led me to my current collaboration with the “Petrologie der Ozeankruste” group at the University of Bremen. The faculty and researchers in this group study how ocean crust forms and how its composition evolves over time as it migrates away from mid-ocean ridges. The Hanse-Wissenschaftkolleg institute (HWK), which is a collaborative research center sponsored by the German states of Lower-Saxony and Bremen, awarded me a fellowship to pursue this collaboration. We are housed in an apartment on the HWK campus, and I have been riding my bike and/or trains about 20 km to the University of Bremen from here.
The University of Bremen also houses MARUM, the Germany Marine Environmental Sciences Institute, where scientific rock drill core from the Atlantic Ocean is archived. This is a wealth of rock samples drilled over a 40-year period by the international research community, including the Deep Sea Drilling Project, Ocean Drilling Program, and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.
I have been visiting the core repository and examining rocks sampled during several cruises that drilled holes penetrating into the deep oceanic crust. My sampling proposal allows me to collect samples from the core for detailed analyses. For me, this includes performing chemical and isotopic analyses of individual mineral grains to learn about the origins of the fluids from which the minerals precipitated, and how the history of faulting is related to fluid movement through the oceanic crust.
When not working, I have been enjoying the culture of northern Germany. Bremen is an amazing city with interesting history, architecture, and culture. There always seems to be something going on here, and the locals are always out doing things no matter how awful the weather is. Overall, my family is enjoying a change of pace from peaceful North Bennington.