After a successful research cruise along the Kermadec arc, the students of Ocean 444 have spring quarter to analyze data and write up their findings back in Seattle. We invite everyone to join us at the class symposium on Tuesday, June 2, 2009, 1:30-4:30 at Ocean Sciences Building Room 425. The final manuscripts will also be archived and made available on this site.
The class would also like to thank the scientists who joined us on the cruise, who have been extremely helpful and supportive during the entire six month experience:
Cornel de Ronde (Geological and Nuclear Sciences, New Zealand)
Matt Leybourne (Geological and Nuclear Sciences, New Zealand)
Heidi Berkenbosch (Geological and Nuclear Sciences, New Zealand)
Gwen Hemery (Geological and Nuclear Sciences, New Zealand)
Tim Shank (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Dan Fornari (Woods Hole Oceanographic Insitution)
Marshall Schwartz (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Sharon Walker (NOAA-Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory)
Jaqui Neibauer (University of Washington)
William Wilcock (University of Washington)
By Tricia Beba
Who stole my line? “land ho?” we didn’t even see land last night- say for the EM300 bottom profile… mmm… I guess that counts… BUT we did go on a most wonderful, most expensive roller coaster ride last night. I’m sure most of you have experienced the weightless and then sinking feeling of going over a hill at high speed on a roller coaster. Quite exhilarating, isn’t it? Awe, now, here’s where it gets tricky: roller coaster + walking + cleaning + packing + sciencing = flat on your back knocked out by your seasickness medicine. It wasn’t that bad at all, but really, just when we were starting to get our sea legs, we have to go ashore again?
Ok, now we’re ready, queue line—“LAND HO!”
So, Anna, James, and Ali delivered a very special wake up call this morning to those of us who where still hoping to hang on to our precious and much needed sleep, me included. It began with a polite knock on the door, then a pause (as if they really thought some one would say “yes? Come right in.). The next things I knew was the door flew open and in pops Anna singing “good morning” in a cheerful and sunshiny way, James “playing” the ukulele, and Ali snapping photos of everyone in their bunks. If the song and the strumming didn’t get you, the camera flash did. They were even so considerate enough to flip on the light as they exited the room. What a beautiful way to begin a day! Seriously though, I don’t think anyone could have woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning with a special wake up call like that. It was truly the right kick off for our last day at sea and our first day on land!
SO… lets see, we got everything packed and cleaned in a jiffy, and now we’re all standing out on the deck to watch our final arrival to New Zealand! Holy cow! We’re in New Zealand! It’s hard to believe! I’m still having trouble going over the fact that we are in the southern hemisphere! This whole adventure has been amazingly awesome and awesomely amazing. It has been a memorable experience out at sea, a smooth trip and one that I’m sure we’ll be telling to our friends and family about for quite awhile. We’re eager to put our land legs to use again, but its also going to be hard to say good bye to the sea for now and part temporarily with those we’ve grown closer to over the course of this journey. I can’t even being to convey how grateful we all are to have been given this opportunity to embark on this cruise and travel with some of the top scientists in this field! Thank you for reading the daily blogs! And thank you to our friends and family for keeping us in their thoughts and prayers during our travels.
By Celia Kelly
March 11th, 2009
Well! This certainly has been a fun and exciting adventure. Today we finished up the last bits of research before setting sail for Auckland. That is not to say that there was not an abundance of hilarious and interesting events.
First event of the ‘day’ was at about 3:30 this morning. Everything was set up for a smooth execution of a plankton tow in a crazy wind storm that ended causing some trouble. The connection near the top of the net which connected it to the crane that was lifting it was not properly secured, and as such with the extreme wind it was blown overboard! Luckily no one was hurt. However, the guard rail was not so lucky and got a souvenir dent.
Next we did a few vertical casts with the CTD and finished up the EM300 floor mapping lines before we called the science to an end. Although the science was done, that does not mean that the work stopped! In order to prepare for our arrival in port tomorrow everyone began to pack up their equipment and make sure all was secured. In this time the weather had picked up to the point that the bow was closed off to personnel, a sure sign that rough waters were ahead and that everyone should take another dose of their seasickness medication.
Even though everything was an excited rush to get everything cleaned up, there was still what some would consider the biggest challenge on this voyage: Poetry Night. There were a few poems, amusing haikus, a sing-along, and a video made to represent the cruise in its entirety by some of the students. We had some laughs and learned a little more about the people we had spent the last week and a half with on a ship out on the open ocean. We have had good days and bad days, but this last day on the sea? Well, it was an eventful and extremely welcome one.
Now for the next adventure: actually writing a paper! However, we need a little break to recover. At least for now you can find us exploring the wonders of New Zealand. See you back in Seattle!
by James Sadler
This late into the cruise, we finally unveiled the potential of Deb’s espresso machine, the worldly Starbucks Barista! No offense to the ships drip coffee, but 8 hours of tow-yoing later, a more substantial caffeine fix is required! So the mind cobwebs can now be blown away clearing the way for scientific epiphanies.
Sadly we discovered further losses to the plastic cup cause, more had escaped their ‘reliable’ cases leaving some of us well and truly cupless. Sad times. However, the school children all seem to have a replacement cup for those which were lost on the previous mission.
Returning the smiles to the weary - but caffeine fixed - Kermadec cruisers, was the fact that after much worry, Tricia finally got her plankton nets deployed on station. The ton (not literally, but there was seriously loads) of extra weights which were added to the base still failed to increase sinking to a satisfactory rate, so the tow-cam was semi-stripped of the weights added earlier, in a race against the clock for the second net deployment. This proved to be a great success, with sampling achieved and the crazy ones amongst us claiming to have seen blue bioluminescent plankton flashing in the night-time waters. Numbers however favoured the uncrazy opinion of no such thing present, just a serious case of sleep deprivation.
Following the return of the plankton nets, the R/V Thompson raced to a new location for the deployment of the tow-cam. Images were snapped, and rocks were attacked marking the return of the tow-cam dredge. Unfortunately, yet again there was no discovery of vent chimneys, but lots of pretty pictures were still taken. And the rock samples were a further boost for those with a geological mind!
The particular highlight of the cruise so far has to be the big screening of the night feature film, ‘The Deep Blue Sea’. Hours of faffing to get a display on said big screen finally resulted in a gaggle of peeps, pressed up against the speakers eagerly anticipating the next shark attack. The lack of audible voices despite great background sounds resulted in the creation of our own story, with bets placed on who would die, and in what order. Fortunately there was little regard to the fact that we too were in the middle of the ocean and could also be surrounded by killer sharks with scientifically enhanced brains.
Further cruise highlights deserving a mention are:
• The continuation of the sunshine, and lack of storm force gales.
• Tacos for dinner - a hit for everyone. Yum.
• The bread. Great every day!
Full steam ahead for the rest of the data collection and the return to stationary land!
by Rachel McKay
Monday, March 9, 2009
Today we finished up at Rumble II West with late night/ early morning camera tows and a short EM300 to finish up Jennie’s mapping. Although no massive fields of life were found, there were a few fish, sea stars, sea pens and coral in our images. The mapping of Rumble II West was declared a success, although much is still unknown about the volcano.
After finishing up at Rumble II West this morning, we headed to Rumble III, our last, but definitely not least, volcano. Upon arrival we jumped right back into the swing of things and pulled out the CTD to do some more tow-yos. The tow yos have been going strong all day and will be followed by more plankton identification, camera tows, EM300 mapping and vertical casts. Today the schedule for our activities at Rumble III was posted and included in it was our transit back to Auckland (woohoo!).
The weather has remained calm and sunny, with no weather alerts in the near future. Everyone seems to still be in good spirits as the cruise’s end is in sight.
by Tom Broomfield and Anna Belcher
March 8 (day #7)
The most important task in the early hours of this morning was attaching a pressure resistant mesh housing a.k.a. an onion bag, to the CTD ready for the deep vertical cast. This onion bag contained the fruits of all the scientists’ labour - many many decorated polystyrene cups. Being the unselfish scientists that we are, we had also selected 50 of New Zealand’s brightest children to make their own cup and place it in the pressure resistant housing bag.
2 hours later…
The CTD had returned…
We carefully removed the cups from their housing and gasped in horror at what had occurred…the pressure resistant housing had failed! 30 innocent teenie tiny cups had been lost at sea. Of the 30 cups, 24 belonged to the bright young children of New Zealand. Fortunately the 3 pig noses had survived.
A somewhat demoralized crew returned to the science, it was plankton tow time. Behold the hot pink copepod…
Next it was time to map, and map we did… for 8 solid hours. As part of Jennie’s project using the hull mounted EM300 multibeam sonar we produced a finer scale map of Rumble II West, the greatest map of Rumble II West in the world to date! We also conducted a tow-yo survey of the volcano, and shortly a second tow-yo and a camera tow will be conducted over a potential hydrothermal site. Results to follow tomorrow.
Following on from the disaster of lost cups a frantic replacement cup making session began, in the space of 20 minutes 24 replacement cups were made! Also a newly fabricated pressure resistant mesh housing was designed and tested…
Oh, and before we forget, the sun has returned! Calm seas and tanning all the way to Auckland!
By the end of today…its all systems go for Rumble II West.
We began last night finishing up the TowCam transect along the satellite cone and the main cone at Brothers volcano. As we inched along, we discovered a wide range of biology. Fish, barnacles, anemones, shrimp, etc. Traveling up the main cone to the edge of the rim tons of sulfide deposits, mats of barnacles, and huge rock deposits were often seen. As we flew up and over the rim, diving down into the 30m long valley within the cone, we came across venting! The images from the camera went completely white due to the volume of plume smoke. After the TowCam run was all finished, it was on to the next tow-yo.
The tow-yo was deployed and directed over the cone. We managed to capture water that registered very high EH readings indicating that vent fluid was abundant. Once the CTD was pulled back to the surface and onboard, students collected their samples of max plume water rendering much awaited results.
Next on schedule of events was the grab for Toby’s project. Much to our dismay, the grab failed to grab anything…but hey, ’tis the way of science sometimes.
On to the next camera tow! We just finished up the TowCam transect along the northwest caldera wall in hopes of imaging some black smokers. Unfortunately no actual chimneys were viewed, but we did get some more images of vent biology and sulfide deposits indicating hydrothermal activity.
Then it was dredge time. We deployed it and drug it along the satellite cone and the area between the satellite cone and the main cone. After it was pulled up on deck we dumped out our findings. Krill, shrimp, and rocks were the most common items retrieved. Everything is currently being sorted and analyzed as we speak. Now, all we have left is a vertical CTD cast on the outskirts of Brothers for background samples, a few net tows of Tricia’s, and then we are on to Rumble II West!
Until next time,
by Jennie Mowatt
Today was our second full day of science and it was nice to finally get everything underway. We began the day with another TowCam around 0400 this morning. I got up beforehand to start copying some files off my computer around 0300, then went back to bed and woke up again around 0700 to grab breakfast and relieve the TowCam group. It wasn’t a very exciting line as far as biology goes (unless you call exactly 1 fish and 1 crab exciting) but geologically it was interesting. We transited from soft fluffy sediments to talus indicative of hydrothermal activity. Sadly we didn’t visually sight any active vents but considering this is known to be an extinct hydrothermal site, we weren’t really expecting any. After TowCam was returned to the deck successfully we conducted a surface plankton net tow. We then proceeded on to a long Tow-yo transect to collect water samples and sensor data with the CTD. After the Tow-yo was completed we transited to the cone at Brothers volcano and began another camera run (which is happening as this is being written).
Today was also dress like a pirate day although many of us came unprepared. Scientists, however, make their living at making things work so we found ways around that (i.e. a Bic pen and some creative drawing in the forms of stubble and eye patches). Overall it was relatively successful and got us through the day with a few more laughs.
Weather has calmed down quite a bit since yesterday; we’re down to 20 knot winds and a calmer sea. We even got a little rain this morning (apparently I was wishing too hard for Seattle yesterday). I’m still getting used to the fact that it’s warm and summery outside. You can go out on the deck at night in a t-shirt and shorts and it’s perfect. Being out at sea you’re normally a bit colder than on land but it just doesn’t seem to apply here. It’s even weirder thinking that we left snow on the ground in Seattle.
by Harriet Cole
Day 2 at Brothers volcano was a lot more productive than the previous day. Due to the bad weather overnight the only data that had been collected was from the EM300 lines over the volcano. Though Tom’s project was almost complete, the rest of the students sampling at Brothers were keen to get some equipment over the side of the ship and collected some samples.
Around lunchtime the first TowCam line was started. This was over the recently named Lala site on the western side of the caldera of the Brothers volcano. This was very exciting as the Lala site is a new hydrothermal field that has never been studied in detail before. As the TowCam started sending back images, the majority of the group were crowded round the computer screen, waiting to see the new vent sites and the biology associated with them. Images of ripples in the sea floor sediment were seen, which will be used in Toby’s project and some images of yellow sulphur deposits were recorded, hinting at this site’s hydrothermal nature. Unfortunately this first TowCam was cut short after the fibre optic cable broke. On the second tow, although the TowCam was driven carefully so that it would not collide with any structures on the seafloor, the TowCam did hit a piece of rock. After getting the TowCam back on deck we found that not only had the fibre optic cable broken but a Niskin sampling bottle had also been ripped off the frame. In its place we found a hunk of rock. Though this was not good news for the TowCam, we had just acquired our first dredge sample. On this piece of rock there was a piece of deep water, slow growing coral and some bivalves. Take a look at the photo.
Next the first of 3 CTD casts was done, the first one being done at Lala, the second at the NW caldera site and the third at the cone site. These CTD casts allowed us to collect the first water samples from the Brothers volcano for analysis. James took this opportunity to practice his hydrogen sulphide analysis method. Celia and Marie took some samples to measure the amount of iron, manganese and methane in the water. Laura started her incubation experiments using phytoplankton collected from this site. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and the rest of the students waiting to get their data will be able to get their samples.
by Toby McLeod
This morning, we arrived at Brothers volcano during some rough weather and began data collection with the EM300 multibeam sonar. The EM300 was used to create a general, high resolution map of the area and could be utilized despite the bad weather. At one point, the wind and waves were so strong that there was talk of mapping both Brothers and Rumble III volcanoes before collecting data from other instruments so that their operation could take place under more favorable conditions. However, it was decided that we would attempt a camera tow at the station known as La La, following the EM300 use.
There were two attempts to lower and run the TowCam. On the first attempt, the heave of the boat knocked loose one of the cables that monitors tension between the instrument and the ship. After a two hour delay of equipment repair, which involved the first mate, Jay, climbing to the top of the A-frame in rough conditions, the TowCam was successfully lowered. As the TowCam was running, we were able to observe images from about five meters off the seafloor which indicated the presence of both sediment ripples and benthic animals. I was personally glad to see sediment ripples as my project heavily involves the interpretation of volcanic deposits on the seafloor for inferring the movement of currents. Organisms at that depth indicate the presence of hydrothermal venting which is promising for other students’ projects as well.