Rare earth Ellettments

By Emily Hill

I’m aboard the 2016 Extended Ellett Line collecting water samples for trace metal analysis, specifically the rare earth elements. This sampling was also done last year and formed my final year project at SAMS. We’re building on that work this year to assess the applicability of rare earth elements as water mass tracers. The Extended Ellett Line provides a good test bed for this research as the different water types of this area, also known as water masses, are well documented. These samples will help us understand how rare earth elements can be used for reconstructing the ocean currents of the past.

After I take my samples from the bottles on the CTD, I need to filter and acidify them on the ship. Then, the samples will be analysed back at SAMS.
It’s pretty straight forward providing you’ve got everything you need! We made sure this year that we have everything in abundance, 6 boxes of gloves, 200 filters etc. At some stations I am also collecting 10L samples for analysis, which takes quite a long time.

We’ve got a great team on board this year and everyone seems to be in good spirits and getting along with what needs to be done. When I’m not sampling my own stations, I help out with the CTD casts where I can and reading books from the extensive library on board. I’ve also learnt some new card games and we often play some rather interesting board games too!

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