June 28, 2018
I groggily forced myself out of bed this morning to go to breakfast. I knew that some interesting things would be happening in the morning and I did not want to miss them. Though I was barely able to keep my eyes open while eating my oatmeal, I think that waking up early for the day was worth it. Maybe I should try that more often.
The MARUM sonars went down at Southern Hydrate Ridge this morning and many of the students swarmed out to watch them go down. Coming from German scientists, these sonars are different than anything that we have put into the ocean previously, so there is a lot of interest in them. I was able to catch bits of pieces of the deployment, but I must admit I was distracted by a few other projects going on.
Katie Bingham wanted some help cleaning her salt pumps that she had used to build an osmotic fluid sampler. Even though I was just cleaning lab equipment, I found it really interesting. Though I have helped her build these before, I am still a little lost as to how the pumps work and cleaning them out was a good chance to learn about them in a little more detail.
After I finished, I was able to help Julie Nelson with titrating the oxygen samples. I had done this last year and remember feeling totally overwhelmed by what we were doing. However, now with a basic chemistry class under my belt, I was able to understand the procedure a bit better. After my confusion last year, I was surprised to learn that it was actually quite simple.
I have found that helping others out in the analytical lab is probably my favorite things to do on the ship. I always thought that I would hate chemistry, which is why I avoided it throughout most of high school. The class that I took was just a shallow glimpse of chemistry and, in all honesty, not the most exciting class that I have ever taken. However, it was not nearly as bad as I thought it might be. Beyond that, helping others with chemistry projects is surprisingly exciting. While I am in no way saying that I want to go into chemistry, I can say that I am nowhere near as terrified of it as I once was.
My shift in the control van proved to be just as exciting as the beginning of my day was. We were putting the second MARUM sonar down, but problems arose when the methane seep that we had wanted to place the sonar failed to produce any bubbles. Determined to place the sonar, our team went “bubble hunting” wherein we used our previous surveys of the area to find another, very active, methane seep. The duo of German scientists (Yann Marcon and Ulli Spiesecke) also took 2 gas samples of the seep. Watching the bubbles collect in the reservoir and the water freeze around them was amazing.
Later tonight, they will be testing the samples to see what they find and they said that they would allow me to watch. Both of them seemed completely baffled to see a gaggle of undergraduates ready to huddle in the corners of the room and watch them look at their samples. However, perhaps because they were amused by the spectacle, they kindly obliged and said that they would let us watch after a few minutes while they got started. I am extremely grateful that everyone on the ship has been so willing to entertain my curiosity. Asking questions would in elementary school would always make both the peers and my teachers frustrated with me. Now, it is completely accepted and, in fact, encouraged.
I feel that today has been one of the best days that I have had in a long time. I got to spend time with people that make me happy, I was surrounded by the beauty of the ocean, I learned as much I could for the day, and I worked with an amazing group of people on a project that we are all very passionate about. I could not have asked for a better day.
June 27, 2018
This year’s cruise definitely feels different than how I experienced it last year, though I cannot pinpoint exactly why. One thing that surprised me was how familiar it all seemed to me. Of course, I was on the ship last year, but only for 10 days. Some things came naturally to me, even though I did not really remember them until I got here. One of these things was latching the doors behind me. As I used the head this afternoon, I noticed that unlatching the door to get in was just normal to me.
I also find myself taking frequent naps, which is something I never do at home. Somehow, being on the water makes it harder to sleep at night, but much easier to sleep during random intervals throughout the day. I fell back into this pattern of napping very shortly after the ship left again.
Despite this, I still find myself discovering new places on the ship. Just today, I went to a completely new part of the ship where I was able to buy a commemorative R/V Revelle t-shirt. I was shocked to learn that there was even a small gym on board. Apparently, this was old news to everyone else, though, including the new students.
One thing that I need to carve more time out of my schedule for is just being outside and on the water. For whatever reason, I did this much more last year. I think that I have just involved myself into more projects and activities this time around. While that isn’t a problem, I know that I will regret it if I do not set time aside just to be by the sea.
June 26, 2018
I cannot believe that it is already day four of this cruise. Time feels like it is both moving much faster and much slower than it normally does. The days, oddly enough, have begun to blend together. You would think that by how much the day-to-day routine changes that each day would be distinct. Last year, I did not keep a daily blog, but I really regretted it. This year, I am trying hard to make sure that I record the events of each day so that I can look back on it later.
This morning I woke up around breakfast, worked a little on a project that I am doing with Katie Gonzalez, then fell back asleep. I have found that I end up sleeping a lot better when I skip breakfast. At the beginning of the cruise, I tried to wake up at 7am every morning. However, being accustomed to waking up a lot earlier at home, I find that it helps me to do so here as well.
When I woke up for the second time, I watched Julie Nelson lower the CTD down. For this particular CTD cast, they lowered the CTD all the way down to the to 2900 meters and collected 8 water samples from that depth. I found it very odd that we only collected these 8, all from the same place. However, I later learned that the CTD cast was mostly about the survey of the water column on the way down than it was about the samples (however, we will be using these water samples for HPIES later). After that cast was finished, we later collected another round of samples, this time at a much more shallow depth. I worked with the other students to collect and organize these samples. It was gorgeous out today and really the first day on the ship that could be considered “warm”. Working with the other students in the sunshine was a lot more fun that you would expect it to be and I feel that I got to know them a lot better.
This was followed by a student meeting led by Rachel Scott. Quite by accident, this lead us to a very impromptu tour of the bridge. I was amazed by the instrumentation in the bridge. It was not at all like I was expecting. Though I realize it is quite backwards of me, I think that I was expecting to see something out of a pirate novel set in the 1800’s. Instead, I saw a spacious room with tons of highly tuned instruments to get us exactly where we want to go. Captain Dave has been nothing but kind and listening to his stories has been a pleasure.
I spent the rest of the day reading, talking, and working on a few projects with others. Tonight, a few students and I plan on going out onto the deck to go star gazing. Hopefully the inky darkness on this ship away from any light pollution will provide a great place to truly bask in the beauty of the universe.
June 25, 2018:
Today was a pretty interesting day. I spent a good chunk of the morning catching up on lost sleep and eventually got up at around 10 am. It felt so good to sleep through a lot of the morning. The weather today was beautiful, and I spent a lot of time just soaking it all in on the deck. The weather is especially great because I have been told a few times by other members of the science party that the weather is supposed to get pretty bad soon. I hope that the bad weather blows over quickly but am remaining optimistic that we will able go to sites that avoid the brunt of it.
At four, I checked into my shift like usual, except today it was extra exciting. Deb Kelley, the Chief Scientist, and a few other members of the science team, were watching as Jason drove around the methane seeps Einstein’s Grotto and Smokey Taverns in the hopes of finding a good place to put some new instruments. The bacteria mats and some animals that lived there were fascinating to look at. Sites like that are really different from anything I have ever seen elsewhere. It is a very strange feeling to know that I am witnessing something live that most people have never and will never see at all.
June 24, 2018:
Today was the second day since Leg 1 started. It was a very exciting day. I spent the morning trying to map out a project with Katie Gonzalez. Though our idea got scrapped, I am still excited to work along side her and see what we come up with. We later had a student meeting with the rest of the students. It was really interesting to know what others were interested in doing for their projects. It is clear that there is a wide range of interests on this ship.
After that, I went to my shift in the control van, where I logged the actions of Jason from 4 to 8 PM. Today was especially exciting as we tried to replace one junction box with another. Though this dive definitely had some issues, I would say that all in all, it went pretty well. Additionally, there were some truly fascinating creatures that we were able to spot in the water.
At the end of my watch, I was sent to take photos of the junction box being lifted out of the water and onto the deck. It was interesting to see how the Jason team and the science party worked together as they lifted hundreds of pounds of equipment on board. This is something I had never really experienced before, but I am glad that I did. I ended up taking photos of the BEP launch that followed it as well.
While I was doing this, Leroy Miller, Katie Gonzalez, and Julie Nelson were helping to clean the junction box that we had recovered as well as to spray down the mud that it had gotten all over the deck. When I was finished taking photos, I rushed to help them. Working with the others was surprisingly fun.
Following this, Katie Bigham asked if I would like to help her set up an Osmotic Fluid Sampler so that it would be ready to use tomorrow. Eager to learn more, I agreed to help. I had never really helped with anything quite like this, so I learned a lot as I helped Katie set it up. It will be exciting to see it go down tomorrow!
June 23, 2018:
Today was the beginning of the first leg of VISIONS’18. Leaving Newport for the open ocean somehow felt even more exciting than it did last year. The knowledge of what was to come and that it had been such a great experience last year made the start of this one feel a lot more real.
In order to help set up, I actually arrived on the Revelle on June 20th. Since being on this ship, I have helped tie objects down, helped find the MSDS’s for different chemicals on board, as well as to help create a chemical inventory for them, and helped the new students get oriented to being on the ship and helping them with any questions they may have.
We left Newport at about 10 in the morning and from there we traveled for about 5 hours to reach Slope Base. At Slope Base, we are doing a series of 3 dives to recover and replace some of the instrumentation there. We had done something very similar when I was on the ship last year and I loved that I was able to explain to others what was going on in the recovery process because I hadn’t understood any of it the previous year.
Getting used to the rolling of the ship once again has taken a little while to get used to, but my body has adjusted to it much better than it did last year. While I have felt nauseous on and off throughout the day, I have otherwise felt great. The biggest difference that I have noticed is how exhausted I feel for my body needing to relearn to constantly adjust my center of gravity so that I do not topple over.
All in all, I believe that today was a great start to the first leg of this journey. Everything went very smoothly and I am incredibly thrilled for what the rest of this adventure will bring and am extremely gracious that I have this opportunity.