Alex Jamshedi’s Blog

The past two days have been hectic for the APL engineers. A deep profiler was sent out the morning of the 27th. As usual ROPOS was sent down to the seafloor later that day to find it, except when they went down it was not to be found. They followed the cable up to about 1380 meters below the sea surface to where they found the deep profiler. After some consultation, they decided to have ROPOS carry the deep profiler all the way up to the surface. The deep profiler was on board around 11:45 pm; and that is when Chris, James, Tim, and many more APL engineers got to work. Since the deep profiler stopped at the middle of its descent they thought it could be a pressure sensor problem. They started troubleshooting the deep profiler by sending a message to the pressure sensor to see if it would return a positive or a negative response. It returned a negative response, as expected, so they decided to replace the pressure sensor with a replacement they knew worked. After replacing it, they continued to run tests. They were still having some problems talking to the deep profiler so they made a call to the “software guy” at around 2:00 am. While all this was going on Quae and I were learning a lot, especially the process of troubleshooting underwater technologies.

Throughout the expedition we colored cups to be sent down to the seafloor. Under the water pressure the cups will shrink to the size of a shot glass. In-between ROPOS dives we sent the cups down and retrieved them.

The deep profiler was sent down a second time, and this time it got stuck around the 1000 meter mark. They decided to add weight to the deep profiler which lowered it to the docking position. The profiler will stay there for a year and data will be collected from it. In the end, things worked out and they kept on moving forward.

July 26

Today Professor Kelley gave a talk on underwater volcanoes, which was interesting and helpful in understanding the upcoming ROPOS dive. It was a basic powerpoint presentation describing the different features of these volcanoes and how they form.

Each student on board is expected to start working on a project while on board the R/V Thompson, which will be completed in the Fall. Originally my group had the idea of creating a clickable map of all the different technologies and instruments on board the ship. Once clicked, a short description of the technology or instrument will appear. After consulting with Professor Kelley and doing some research on the website interactive oceans, we strayed away from this idea becasue of potential complexities in coding. We have now taken the approach of adding information to the website regarding these technologies and instruments. Meaning if we find a certain area lacking information we will add pictures, videos, and blurbs. This is definitely a benefit for us, as well as people browsing the website searching for information, because it gives us the opportunity to get a good grasp on most of the technologies and instruments on board.

Much has happened in the past two days with the ROPOS dives. We had a two hour transit to a new location, which has not been explored yet. It is the location of an underwater volcano that erupted in 2011 and in April of 2015. The plan was to go down there and explore the volcanic flow in the area and see what we can find. The ROPOS control room was full of people for this dive. Most of us were up until 2:00 am glued to the screens in the control room, this included students, APL engineers, researchers, and the ships crew.

After reaching the seafloor, we shortly came across pillow-like rock formations which is the eruptive flow from the volcano. We followed the flow for a few hours and came across some interesting bacterial mats and small diffuse vents with higher temperature water flowing out of them compared to the surrounding ocean water. We came across some interesting observations and collected multiple rock samples while down there. Since this was a new site, ROPOS placed some markers down there, one of the markers placed was designed and drawn by Tracie. It is a cool thought that it will be at the bottom of the ocean forever.

July 24

We saw more wildlife this morning. A shark that was roughly four feet in length was spotted for the first time swimming right up next to the ship. For the second day straight, we saw multiple whales off on the horizon while we were in transit to Axial Base. The transit from Slope Base to Axial Base took about 20 hours.

Chris, an APL electrical engineer on board, has been showing me some of the technology he has been working on throughout the expedition. This is a great opportunity for someone like me who is studying to become an electrical engineer. Today he ran some tests on the deep profiler testing the resistances of each pin and checking them against his notes. He showed me the block diagram for the deep profiler which was extensive and showed me how to navigate it.

Julie, Khadijah, and I collected water sample from ROPOS. This was the first time I was up close to the ROV and I have to say it was amazing. It is an incredible piece of engineering. I took a couple of pictures and hope to get a closer look later on. The samples we collected will be checked for oxygen its content.

Ken, one of the two ship's two Marine Techs, had Juliana and I help him deploy the CTD which was a bit tricky at first. We had a winch which was controlled by the bridge lift the CTD over the edge of the boat while we guided it with ropes that were connected to each side of the CTD. A few hours later we had to retrieve the CTD and take samples. When the CTD resurfaced the winch pulled it up level with the deck of the boat, and we had to pull it in with long polls that clipped the ropes back onto the CTD which were then used to pull it back onto the deck. Once on deck a bunch of us helped to collect water samples which will then be used to run multiple tests.

We were given an engine room tour today which was very cool. We learned about the ins and outs of the ship along with a brief history. It took about 30 minutes to see everything in the engine room. The ship makes its own drinking water, about 4000 gallons a day which I thought was a cool bit of information.

Since the ship was mid way through a 20 hour transit to Axial Base we did not have any shifts today. With the extra time we had I was able to spend time getting to know the other students. Joe and Kearstin taught me how to play Cribbage which honestly looked boring from the outside looking in. Once I learned how to play it was actually enjoyable. We talked for hours about where were from, where we have been, our passions, and our future endeavors.

July 23

Today was a very interesting day, the waters were very calm which was great because it made walking much easier. I spent the first half hour of my day out on the deck of the boat, and for the first time this trip I saw a couple of whales off on the horizon. Tracie, Joe, and Julie collected seawater at different depths the other day and today we ran the seawater through filters. These filters catch all the chlorophyll in the seawater sample. We then put the filters into a test tube with acetone and placed them into the freezer. The acetone will break down the chlorophyll and tell us the amount at each sampled depth. 

ROPOS went down to the sea floor today in search of seeps. They did this by scanning close to the sea floor for bubbles produced by these vents. Once bubbles were spotted ROPOS would descend down to the sea floor and after not much searching the source would be found. Three to four seeps were found and marked during the dive. I could not believe how much life was at the bottom of the ocean. There were clam beds, different species of fish and crabs, tube worms, and neptunia. After much exploring they decided to take a survey of a section of the sea floor near a large blowout zone. Before ROPOS started its ascend to the surface samples were taken near the seeps. I was surprised the sea floors terrain can be so rough which was the case during this dive.

After spending multiple hours in the ROPOS control room, I came up to the kitchen for my second dinner of the day. I love how there is so much food on board the R/V Thompson and that we have access to it when ever we want. The first couple of days I felt a bit isolated being so far out off the coast to a point were you only see ocean in all directions. I have noticed that we are not alone after all. I saw a couple of fishing boats off on the horizon, and it looks like seagulls have taken a liking to our boat thinking it is a fishing boat.

July 21

I woke up today and made it up to the kitchen for breakfast. I had the classic bacon and eggs and it was great. We then had a safety meeting were we learned about all the possible scenarios and what to do in each situation along with all the escape routes. We then practiced putting on the full body immersion suit that would we would need to wear it for some reason if we had to abandon ship.

We left Newport today at around 10:30 am and headed out to the Slope Base site. It was about a five hour steam to the location. I felt a bit seasick, but once I got some fresh air I was fine. I had the opportunity to meet a few of the scientists on board. Their professions ranged from engineering to biology. Studying electrical engineering myself, I am very excited to observe and learn from all the engineers on board. Once we reached our destination at Slope Base, the crew dropped the HPIES-2015 down to the ocean floor.

I spent some time getting to know some of the other students on board. Jessica and Juliana asked Quae and I if we would like to work on mapping the instruments on board using an interactive webpage. After consulting with them we decided to join them on the project. Later on that day I went out to the front of the ship to watch the sunset with Krista and Lauren.

Today I started my four hour shift from 8:00 pm to 12:00 am. I spent the entirety of my first shift in the ROPOS control room taking snapshots using the DSC camera, which I enjoyed a lot. While on shift I was able to watch the ROPOS team relocate the HPIES-2015 instrument next to the HPIES-2014 instrument installed last year. Once my shift ended I went up to the kitchen and ate dinner.

July 20

Day one of my R/V Thompson adventures began at 7:00 am at University of Washington. It was a five hour and 30 minute car ride from University of Washington down to Newport Oregon. The first thing we did was go to our cabin and situate ourselves. After briefly meeting some of the crew and scientists on board, some of us decided to explore Newport.

We walked to a beach close to where we were docked. The beach was beautiful compared to the ones in Bellingham Washington. After spending a couple of hours at the beach we decided to get something to eat. We walked across a large bridge to reach the city and ate at an Irish restaurant called Nandas. The food was good, I had the fish and chips. After we made our way back to the R/V Thompson we relaxed and explored the boat.