This Monster Multicorer Grabs Ocean Mud With Delicate Precision

This may look like a giant robot spider, but it's actually a very delicate scientific instrument used to take undisturbed samples of the ocean floor.

Oceanographerslower this multicore sampler to the ocean floor in a trip that takes an excruciatingly long 90 minutes. Once it reaches the bottom, the research ship must stay as still as possible while the eight sampling tubes extend and push into the ocean mud. The nearly perfect samples are sealed under water and again slowly raised to the surface.

This multicorer is much different from the traditional slam and grab method which drops a heavy sampling tube into the ocean mud as hard and fast as possible. Slamming is exciting and collects a nice deep core but destroys the top layers in the process.

So why is the precision of the multicorer so important? It's all about the carbon and nitrogen particles which settle on the top layer of the ocean floor. Researchers studying the nutrient cycle of the ocean need this layer and go to great lengths to keep it intact. [New York Times]

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