SciQuilt – DSDP Leg 3

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September 4, 2021 by Dr. G

I am looking forward to serving as an Onboard Outreach Officer for Expedition 390 on the JOIDES Resolution in April-June 2022. As I wait for my sailing date to get here, I’m spending time learning about the expectations for this expedition, reviewing the connection to a legacy cruise, and thinking about ways to share information about scientific ocean drilling (beyond standard posts on social media and blogs). I decided to start with my outreach pre-expedition by engaging in one of my favorite science communication activities – science quilting!

International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 390 comes approximately 50 years after Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Leg 3. From December 1968 to January 1969, the vessel the Glomar Challenger “drilled 17 holes at 10 sites in the equatorial and South Atlantic Ocean between Dakar, Senegal, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil” (see abstract). The holes were drilled in a transect across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 30oS latitude and set out to verify the theories of seafloor spreading and plate tectonics. Expedition 390 will “fill critical gaps in our sampling of intact in situ ocean crust with regards to crustal age, spreading rate, and sediment thickness”, and “yield crucial data to test hypotheses regarding the role of evolving thermohaline circulation patterns in climate change and the effects of tectonic gateways and climate on ocean acidification” (see abstract from scientific prospectus).

Back when I was in graduate school at the University of Miami – Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the graduate student lounge in my department had shevles and shelves along the walls, filled with volumes containing the published reports from DSDP and the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP). I recalled that the earliest volumes were in an aqua/teal color, and I used the cover of the report for Leg 3 as inspiration for this quilt. All reports can now be found online as PDF files, including the report for Leg 3.

  • Diagonal strips of white and turquoise fabric
  • Letters and numbers for the DSDP Leg 3 legacy quilt
  • Dr. G holding a copy of Volume 3 at IODP

Not only was I excited to find a color of fabric to match the cover of the DSDP volume, I found the same patterned fabric in the three colors found on the cover – turquoise, white, and brown. I selected fabric with the crackled pattern, as I was imagining pulling down this volume from a bookshelf and opening the book, hearing the cracking of the spine since it probably has been quite some time since anyone looked at this book (again, the entire volume is now online).

I had never attempted lettering in a quilt before, so I experimented with using squares to spell out the letters and numbers in while on turquoise, just like what is found on the cover of the volume. The ship is also featured on the volume cover, and I decided to use a black-and-white image of the Glomar Challenger. I wanted to include an image of the site map where the rock and sediment cores were collected.

  • Quilt hanging on a wall
  • Zoomedin lower-right corner of quilt
  • Zoomed in image of quilt
Dr. G posing with quilt
Dr. G posing with DSDP Leg 3 quilt, with Volume 3 lying across the top of the quilt, in a conference room at IODP.

When I arrived at IODP on the campus of Texas A&M University for training in August 2021, I had no idea that there was an entire all of the print volumes from DSDP and ODP expeditions. I quickly found Volume 3 for Leg 3, and united the publication with the quilt made in its honor. There is so much more that could be quilted about this legacy expedition – but I know there will be even more stories to tell about Expedition 390 when it revisits this site to collect more samples for more analyses.

The quilt measures 23 inches on each side and was completed June 28, 2021.


To learn more about scientific ocean drilling, please read about my tour of the Gulf Coast Repository in College Station, Texas.

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