January 13, 2014 Slideshow

Chief scientist Stefan Sievert inspects a box of plastic “sandwiches,” devices that provide a habitat for animals that settle on the vents. These devices, which have been on the seafloor for up to five years, were recovered for WHOI biologist Lauren Mullineaux, who uses them to study how new vent sites are colonized by different organisms.

Atlantis’ crew hoists an elevator onto the ship’s deck. This one carries samples of tubeworms in the plastic “bioboxes” that line the front of its platform, as well as pieces of basalt (a type of lava rock on the seafloor) in the crates at its sides. On the back of the platform, WHOI chemist Jeff Seewald’s Isobaric Gas-Tight samplers await processing. You can watch a video Jason releasing this elevator from the ocean floor here.

No, this isn’t a colorful art installation—it’s tubing connected to a device that WHOI researchers Jeff Seewald and Sean Sylva use to detect levels of ammonia in vent fluid. The machine’s official name is “conductivity detector,” but the researchers have dubbed it “The Ammonianator.”

Chris Morgan, Atlantis’ chief engineer, points to a computerized panel in the ship’s engine room. From here, he can monitor and control almost all of the ship’s major systems, from propulsion to air-conditioning. With the two joysticks in the plastic boxes in front of him, Morgan can even steer the ship if need be.

Six huge yellow engines, each the size of a small truck, provide power to Atlantis—including massive electrical motors at the stern that turn the ship’s propellers.

Chief Engineer Chris Morgan provides a sense of scale as he walks past one of the engines that power the ship.

When you’re 700 miles from land, stepping out to the hardware store isn’t an option. With that in mind, the ship’s crew carries plenty of spare parts like these pipe fittings.

Chief Engineer Chris Morgan is in his element amid the rows of steel pipes and ducts that run through Atlantis’ engine room.

A steel plaque welded to the wall of the engine room shows the date that construction began on Atlantis.


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