The staff of the Sea Floor Samples Laboratory are
responsible for the design, fabrication and deployment of marine
geological sampling tools. The inventory consists principally of
corers, dredges and grabs specifically sized and configured for use in
the deep sea, but adaptation for continental slope and shelf sampling
is common. This group will stage and execute various sampling programs,
matching equipment and rigging strategies to the needs of the principal
investigator. They have developed numerous special hardware assemblies
and heavy equipment handling systems for all ships that Woods Hole
operates, as well as many others in the UNOLS and USCG Polar fleet.
They can provide piston, large diameter gravity, box and multi-corer
systems and will install and operate these systems aboard WHOI ships or
The efficiency and on-deck operating safety of new, long,
large diameter (JPC) piston coring systems has been improved by the
development of a hydraulic extrusion system. Thirty meter long cores
(in strong PVC liner) can be recovered and turned around quickly for
redeployment without the need for “breaking down” the core barrel. More
stations can be occupied in a given time period with less disturbance
to sample material than with traditional handling methods.
The McLean Laboratory on WHOI’s Quissett Campus houses more
14,500 archived marine geological samples. The inventory includes long,
stratified sediment cores, rock dredges, surface grabs and samples
collected by DSV Alvin.
Each of the sea floor samples has been carefully preserved and
described; twelve volumes of
compiled lithologic and petrographic analyses have been distributed to
centers of marine geological research around the world. The lab also
maintains a user-friendly search and retrieval computer database for
ready access to the entire suite of samples and digitized descriptive
parameters. Subsamples of the WHOI collection are distributed upon
request and at no cost to the investigator.
New capabilities at the Lab include a multi-sensor core logger
for non-destructive analysis of physical properties such as bulk
density and magnetic susceptibility (available for use at sea), and a
large walk-in refrigerated core storage facility.