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Daily Updates: March 2000
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Daily Updates: May 2000
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showers weather

Cloudy with scattered showers
80.6°F (27°C)
Latitude: 3 deg 29’N
Longitude: 102 deg 15’W
Wind Direction: S
Wind Speed: 9 Knots
Sea State 1
Swell(s) Height: 4-6 Foot
Sea Temperature: 82.4°F (28°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1012 MB
Visibility: 10-25 Nautical Miles

what's to eat today?

Mushroom and onion omelet
Glazed doughnuts and waffles
Bacon and Sausage
Hash browns and hot cereal
Eggs to order
Assorted tropical fruits
Assorted dry cereals

Club Sandwich
Crab salad
Potato salad
Vegetable beef soup
Salad bar

Chicken Cordon Bleu
Fettucini Alfredo
Bread stuffing
Steamed asparagus
Fresh wheat dinner rolls
Salad bar
Boston cream pie

Tom Crook
April Fools Day -- and rain!
April 1, 2000
By Dr. Dan Fornari and Julia Getsiv

RV Melville arrived on station at the 3° 20’N survey area at 0141 hours local time. How close did you come to estimating our arrival time from the distance and speed information I posted in yesterday’s Daily Journal? As soon as we got to the site, we started a 7 hour multibeam survey over the area where we will be working for the next week. (For more information on multibeam mapping, see the "Sonar" section under “Oceanographic Tools” in “About the Cruise”.) RV Melville continued at a speed of about 12 knots during the survey and we covered an area of approximately 350 nautical miles (nearly 1200 square kilometers). That is an area about 5 times the size of Manhattan Island in New York City! Uta Peckman, the Scripps multibeam data processor, was busy all day processing the data and she has produced beautiful maps of water depth with an accuracy of about 10 m that help us understand the morphology (shape) and topography of the East Pacific Rise. The maps will also help us to fly the DSL-120 sonar over the bumpy seafloor. This morning, the air was thick with humidity as the Deep Submergence Operations Group assembled on the fantail to deploy three “transponders” to help us navigate the DSL-120 sonar and Argo II mapping systems that we will use in the coming week. As the first transponder was deployed, a warm gentle rain began to fall and everyone enjoyed how refreshing it was after sweating in the damp heat. Shortly after that, it began to pour and the group had to take cover. As we approached the first drop site, the transponder was lowered into the water. As the ship moved slowly away, Tom Crook, Randy Dickau and Rob Palomares began to pay out the tether line. After all 200 meters of tether line were paid out, they kicked the anchor over the side, and it sank to the seafloor taking the transponder with it.

The transponders look like big yellow hard hats. They contain equipment that can listen for and also send sound signals. The ship and the mapping vehicles “talk” and “listen” to the transponders to navigate. The transponders “speak” using sounds of different frequencies so that the ship or towed vehicle can distinguish which transponder they are talking to. Check out the information on transponders in the “Navigation” section of “Oceanographic Tools” located in the “About the Cruise” part of the web site.

Once all three transponders were on the seafloor and Tom Crook, WHOI’s expert navigator, had determined their positions, we deployed the DSL-120 sonar “fish” and began surveying the ridge crest. We are looking for new lava flows that may have been erupted on the seafloor between May 27 and June 5, 1996, nearly four years ago. Those dates are when Dr. Chris Fox, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Maya Tolstoy see seismic events in the hydrophone data records they have analyzed from the Autonomous Hydrophone Array (see the “Hot Topics” section of the “Daily Update” for more information on the Autonomous Hydrophone Array). We are like Captain Nemo of Jules Verne’s story, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, exploring where no one has ever been before, ready for any discovery and adventure!

During the day, there were a few tricks that some of the scientists played on each other, seeing as how this was April Fools Day. Dan Engelbrecht had everyone fooled by putting up a menu that didn’t have any of the foods that he was actually serving. It was all delicious but it wasn’t what we were expecting! Dan Fornari and Mike Perfit tried to play a trick on Maya Tolstoy by locking her in her room. Maya got the last laugh by going out the side door to her cabin and surprising Dan and Mike as they waited outside her door.

Later in the morning, Randy Dickau spotted a pod of short-finned pilot whales off the port quarter of the ship and many of the scientists assembled outside to catch sight of them. These whales are up to 23 feet long and are frequently observed in large groups in temperate and tropical waters. They are black overall, with an anchor-shaped gray patch on the chin and another gray patch on their belly. They stayed with us for about half an hour probably having a breakfast of squid which is their favorite food.