Nature Geoscience publishes a regular feature called BackStory, at the back of the journal or on the journal’s website, in which the authors of a paper in the current issue of the journal answer questions about their field work — providing an unusual perspective on the region of the world that contributed to the paper. The Backstory in the July issue (Nature Geoscience 1, 482; 2008), Sailing for a stretched lithosphere, describes how Jenny Collier and colleagues, having managed to get themselves and all their instruments on board a ship not too far away from an imminent war zone, enjoyed the serenity of life at sea as they investigated the rifted continental margin of India.
How long did it take to plan the fieldwork?
Two years elapsed between getting the project approved and setting sail. We wanted to use a particular vessel, the RRS Charles Darwin, which was already in the Indian Ocean and had the scientific capability that we needed. Unfortunately, we had to join a rather long waiting list. Coordination was a nightmare — our scientific instruments were all in different parts of the world, taking part in experiments that were also subject to scheduling changes. When we finally had our chance, the build-up to the Iraq invasion resulted in several changes to our port of embarkation. It was a huge relief when we finally set sail with all the equipment onboard!
See Nature Geoscience’s website for the rest of the Backstory.
The paper featured is: The relationship between rifting and magmatism in the northeastern Arabian Sea, by Timothy A. Minshull, Christine I. Lane, Jenny S. Collier & Robert B. Whitmarsh (Nature Geoscience 1, 463-467; 2008).