Helen is a sedimentologist, a type of geologist that studies soil, sand and silt. She specifically looks at the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of marine sediments eg. Sand/silt from the sea.
Helen never considered being anything other than a scientist as her engineer/scientist parents always exposed her to science. At high school, she studied Maths, Chemistry, Economics and Art (and history of Art) and then carried on to University where she studied for over eight years in New Zealand and Australia.
Helen is currently working with a group of University students to study the characteristics of 61 sediment cores (or samples) taken from the Hikurangi subduction zone to look at changes in the sediment that may be related to large earthquake events. The core may show how frequent large earthquakes have been along the margin.
She uses a range of traditional and new sedimentological methods to study the colour, age, size and structure of sediments from the seafloor. Some of the instruments she uses to do this include microscopes, x-rays, a laser grainsizer and CT.
This work in the lab will take many days, months, years of work and that does not include the time it then takes to analyse all the data!
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