Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Paisley Caves - notes from the field part 3

Many many samples
We are coming to the end of the field season for the NERC project at Paisley Caves. Only a few days until I return to Newcastle, and I've been spending the last few days packing up all the samples and sorting out the paper work for exporting them. One box is heading straight to Earthslides for micromorphology slide prep, and the others are going back to Newcastle for microfossil and biomarker work. In the meantime team member John Blong is heading to Eugene to spend a few weeks at the Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History, collecting extra material from the excavation archives.

I have discovered that cool boxes are a great way to pack samples; the boxes are very lightweight and also pretty sturdy, and I am hoping the fact there is a lid + obvious top and bottom will mean that they are not shaken about too much on their journey back to the UK. Cool boxes are fairly pricey new back in the UK, but you can get them fairly cheap in the US, and I can guarantee that if you go looking around a few thrift stores (aka charity shops in UK speak) you will be able to pick one or two up for a few $$. We managed to find the two boxes below for only $2! Bargain.The main full length monolith samples are another story - being over 1 metre in length they were a bit too big to fit in the cool boxes, so we had to go with a large cardboard box. Luckily we also manged to find some firm foam which made packing them in tightly much easier.

One thing that struck me is how it it SO MUCH easier arranging shipping now that I have a permanent job. It is crazy how as a PhD student, and even the multiple postdocs I did afterwards, how there is often very little (if any) budget for shipping samples (or even just visiting museums etc to collect material from archives). I survived for years by hijacking other sample shipments or carrying samples in hand luggage (actually a reasonable choice for smaller sample numbers but also a huge pain going through customs depending on where you are travelling from). Other times I've paid for shipping out of my own pocket - which can be significant for micromorphology samples, which are both heavy and fragile, and require an express service to ensure they survive the transit intact. This time I was given the magical Newcastle University international shipping account number, which means all I had to do was fill out a short form and leave the boxes at the approved DHL pick up point!



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