Day 38: Friday 12 April 2007
Sampling area: Dredging
Ship's position at midnight: 12º57N, 44º56W
Gems, Lies and Video-diaries.
While some people seek solace at the bottom of a glass, we found ‘Truth’. Or rather, the absence of the bottom of a beer-glass led to the discovery of the truth about the source of our ‘diamonds’. But before that, as the First of April passed into the Second, and then to the Third, our delight turned from scientific wonder, to greed, and finally to suspicion concerning the amazingly prolific haul of gems from the abyss. Questions were raised and answers sought, but not before ‘diamond fever’ had spread through the ship’s company like an over-ripe banana through a chimpanzee. Whereas the rock-sample laboratory had once been the exclusive haunt of gaunt, exhausted and goggle-eyed petrologists, it had suddenly become ‘The Place’ for deck-crew, engineers and officers alike to hang-out. Such was their new-found fascination for all things Geological that we began drawing up a lecture series, starting with ‘Hutton’s Unconformity’ and the “Abyss of Time”, progressing through ‘Plate Tectonic Theory’ and concluding with ‘What Isotope Geochemistry Can Do For You’. Yet despite their obvious delight in our science, the plan of a lecture series met with little enthusiasm.
No, the interest of the ship’s company strictly lay in a ‘hands-on’ approach. So much so, that a photograph taken discreetly by a hidden camera caught them rummaging through the dredged gravel with eyes sparkling like magpies, picking at glittering gems dotted here and there. At least this explained the sudden and apparent decrease in the numbers of ‘diamonds’ we were recovering. Or so we thought.
In an attempt to recover our scientific samples, a polite notice was put-up around the ship. The emphasis was not to seek blame (we already had our suspicions), but rather to encourage the return of the material for the benefit of the scientific community. And so we went on, each eyeing the other, no-one mentioning what was on everyone’s mind. “Was that a change in ship’s course towards the Caymen islands?”. “Did you hear footsteps in the sample-store last night?”. “Who’s got the key to the safe?”. That was, until this morning. As dawn broke over a tranquil sea, the sun rising into a crystal-clear blue sky, a cry echoed out from the rock-saw lab. Tucked away at the back of a cupboard was a heavy, clear-glass beer-mug: a typically British, clear-glass beer-mug. A facetted, barrel-shaped glass, with a looped handle at its side, and a thick
glass base. Or rather more idiosyncratically, this beer mug was without its thick glass base. A fact that rendered it inadequate for its originally intended purpose. Suspiciously, the base had been sawn off. On close inspection, fragments of the sawn glass base were found lying in the dirt beside the saw. Some if these had been crudely fashioned into diamond-shaped crystals, but discarded because of some flaw or other in their manufacture. A quick comparison with our ‘gems’ revealed the ghastly truth. On reflection, it was obvious really. The fact that it deceived such an experienced and sceptical geological team like ours was embarrassing. Obviously, someone had swapped our real gems for these fakes!
So, as we approach Tenerife, on behalf of us all on the maiden science voyage of the RRS James Cook, its been great having you along with us to share in our adventure. Take care.
[link to www.noc.soton.ac.uk
[link to www.noc.soton.ac.uk