On July 4th, we celebrated the successful testing and resolution of an electrical current imbalance on Primary Node 3B at the summit of Axial Seamount. This node was installed in 2012 at a water depth of ~1530 m (~5000 ft) beneath the ocean’s surface. When fully configured in 2014, it will host numerous extension cables that provide power and two-way communications to a wealth of geophysical, chemical, and biological sensors all connected to the Internet. In concert, these sensors will allow monitoring and response to seismic and volcanic events that significantly perturb the chemistry of hydrothermal vents and the associated biological communities. We will visit this node multiple times during the VISIONS’13 expedition when we install extension cables along the seafloor to key experimental sites. During Dive 1595, the robotic vehicle ROPOS disconnected a camera and testing equipment from the node, which was then powered up from over 350 miles away at the shore station in Pacific City, Oregon.
Following the dive to Primary Node 3B, Dive 1596 was conducted at the International District Hydrothermal vent field to document a proposed extension cable route into the field. We also visited the ~60 foot tall, actively venting black smoker chimney called “El Guapo” (the handsome one) and the venting structure Escargot. Upon recovery of ROPOS at ~ 8 pm, the R/V Thompson turned east for a ~ 21 hr transit to Newport, Oregon to transfer personnel, to be followed by dives at the methane seep site – Southern Hydrate Ridge.