Happy New Year from all of us back in our respective chilly countries. We all made it home safely and were very grateful to not get stuck in the travel chaos.
We spent the last week in Samarinda finishing off our work on the nearby localities and packing the samples for shipping back to London. Our storage room was completely full of sample bags and larger specimens wrapped in newspaper, boxes and buckets to keep them safe during the journey. There were nearly 1500 samples which we packed into 43 wooden crates and they were very heavy - an estimated 3 tonnes of rock!
Sample bags waiting to be packed (Photo F. Wesselingh)
As we packed we made an inventory of the sample numbers and types. The fossils were split into taxonomic group, e.g. corals, bryozoans, molluscs, algae and microfossils, then into sample type, such as individual specimens or bulk samples. The bulk samples will be washed and sorted and will provide an indication of diversity in the areas where they were collected. The were also samples of each sediment type, particularly the carbonates, which will tell us about the palaeoenvironments and taphonomy (post-depositional events) of the rocks.
Carrying the heavy crates to van which took them to Balikpapan for shipping to London
We also did a Nature Live event with the museum - did any of you see it? At 10.30pm we drove down to a local hotel with internet access and ran about with the laptop until we got a good enough signal to make the video connection. The staff were somewhat bemused by us hanging over the balcony and pretending we were in the jungle. Luckily it was dark so the audience couldn't see our luxurious surroundings. Public engagement has been a big part of this trip because it's important for us to communicate what we're doing to a wider audience and also to teach the Throughflow Early Stage Researchers how to talk about their work to a range of people.
We will be updating this blog to let you know what's happening over the next few months. The container with the samples should arrive in six weeks and then there will be lots of excitement as the specimens are unpacked, prepared, processed, identified and analysed. There is another field trip to Kalimantan in June to look at new sites and make further collections, so keep an eye on this blog for further news and events.
You can also keep in touch with progress on the IPAEG website