Daily Updates: May 2004
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|Daily Updates: June 2004
Light rain in Seattle port
Latitude: 47° N
Longitude: 122° W
June 9, 2004
By Amy Nevala
John Delaney, the Co-Chief Scientist on our voyage
to the Endeavour Segment and the Nootka transform fault
, says that oceanographers
gather threads of information. Over time, researchers worldwide weave
them together to form a tapestry that is our collective understanding
of the oceans and Earth.
John hopes that someday soon, scientists may have a more permanent presence
on the seafloor. He is a leader in a project to build a giant ocean
observatory, called NEPTUNE, for North East Pacific Time-series Undersea
Networked Experiments. Carefully planned patterns of instruments and
cables placed in the northeast Pacific Ocean will help in the study
of marine life, climate, earthquakes, pollution, and currents.
“I anticipate a future when many scientists will be able to research
the oceans year round without leaving shore,” John said. The research
will complement existing studies of the oceans using satellites, as well
as ships like Atlantis.
Until that future, we sail for a few weeks at a time to gather threads.
Late last night we returned, and now scientists will reflect on what
A Scientific Inventory
Chief Scientist Deb Kelley retrieved instruments she had placed on the
seafloor to gather temperatures and sample microbes
, and left other instruments
behind to collect more information. Vicki Ferrini and Deb Glickson gave
us the most detailed look yet of the Mothra and Main Endeavour vent fields
by producing high-resolution maps.
After eight long nights, a group of graduate students lead by Kris Ludwig
are now skilled at using an instrument called a CTD (for conductivity,
temperature, and depth). The data they gathered will lead to discovery
of a new vent field north of the Sasquatch vent field.
Alison LaBonte, Mike Tryon, Kevin Brown, and David Hilton, all of the
Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, tested instruments
that will help on future research expeditions.
And two final dives at the Nootka transform fault offshore Canada resulted
in the discovery of a new cold seep site that hosts white clams, some
as big as dinner plates.
Numbers tell a story of our time at sea. Thirteen researchers visited
the seafloor in the submersible Alvin. Four were first time divers. The
49 scientists, Alvin group members, and ship’s crew consumed more
than 29,000 gallons of fuel and drank and showered in 42,800 gallons
of water. We ate 3,000 pounds of oatmeal, cheese, ice cream, pears, bacon,
At 4 p.m. Monday just off Port Angeles, Washington, Captain George Silva
boarded a boat to shore, where he flew home to mourn the death of a family
member. During his time away, scientists and crew will miss his confident
manner and sunny grin that made those on board feel comfortable and welcome,
especially several first-time Atlantis sailors.
As Atlantis sailed back into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and into Seattle
last night, most said through exhausted smiles that they are happy with
their work completed. No one was injured and nearly everyone stayed healthy
(if not a few pounds heavier, from extra slices of Steward Carl Wood’s
yellow cake with fudge frosting).
This morning Atlantis crewmembers continue to work unloading equipment
and gear. In a few days some will scatter for long-awaited vacations
or to see spouses and children. Others have less than a week before they
will report back to Atlantis, where a new group of scientists will return
to the Endeavour Segment for more oceanographic research.
The new science crew will not use Alvin. With one exception, all members
of the Alvin group from this expedition have at least a month off before
gathering in the Gulf of Alaska, where Alvin will dive to the seafloor
with oceanographers researching corals, clams, and other types of macro-fauna.
Sean McPeak, the newest Alvin pilot in training, will stay aboard Atlantis for the next leg to gain more experience working on research vessels
and ocean instruments.
Expedition Leader Patrick Hickey will spend the next four months building
a house in Vermont’s Green Mountains. He is looking forward to
seeing a moose rumored to live in his backyard.
And two hundred miles from here, deep beneath the surface of the ocean
on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, microbes grow, hydrothermal vents release
super-heated fluids, and discoveries remain to be made on future research
dives. Until then, thanks for joining us.
(For more information on NEPTUNE,