Amy Larsen’s Blog

July 9, 2018

This morning I only had to get up at 5:15 because we are transiting to Slope Base. I never thought I would say that I got to sleep in till 5:15 am. That plus the exercise from last night has made me feel so energetic that I feel normal again. I will definitely spend some time in the exercise room each day now. There was also a stunning sunrise that I had some time to enjoy.

Now that we are at Slope Base, I have noticed how different the water and biology is here. The water is significantly murkier and there are more creatures floating about and two sharks were spotted this morning (I was in the Jason control van though). Also it seems warmer today and I finally feel warm enough to wear just a t-shirt or one jacket (compared to two jackets, one being a thick wool).

As I was standing up in the galley after sitting down for a while after scanning the water for marine life, I immediately saw a large (2 foot tall) ripple as just from a large splash. The only thing that could make such a disturbance would be a whale breaching. Very sadly I only saw the ripple, but someone that was on the bridge at the time confirmed that it was a grey whale breaching. I was very frustrated to not have seen this happen as I have wished and wished to see something like that. Now I will be extra vigilant and spend even more time outside.

The dive this evening was fun. The junction box that has been down there (at 80 m) since 2014 is covered with anemones and looks like a sheep. We also saw lots of big fish and even some transparent jelly creatures that flashed a rainbow of colors. 

Since I have been not very busy this past while (besides Jason van watching and my project) the feeling inside me that motivates me to go out and do things that is always in the back of my mind (but usually not strong because of school and stresses) has been increasing in severity and it was particularly bad today. I don’t really know how to express this feeling, but it’s a combination of inspiration, motivation, curiosity, thirst, and ambition. When I got this feeling when I was younger I would usually go and build or make something but here it is hard to release but I feel like and want to build a thousand cable arrays and search the entire Mid-Atlantic ridge for vents. I probably won’t be able to go to sleep for a while tonight.

July 8, 2018

Despite not doing as much as I do some days on land I am more tired. Maybe its because of the medicine, but Kenny seemed to imply that it’s the way of life at sea. I don’t enjoy being unproductive, but also its good that I have to adjust to this and not be stressed.

Yesterday as I was reading more papers I begun to get more and more confused and off track on my project. This seemed to be happening quite a bit and so there was some frustration mixed in with the confusion. However after talking to Deb everything made more sense and I think I finally have a solid theory. I am excited to get back to land where I can download Matlab and data to make my graphs.

As the leg progresses (we are now transiting towards land to stop at another site on the way back for a day or two?) I have begun to miss physical activities quite a bit, so I decided to go find the exercise room. The room turned out to be smaller than I expected, yet it had a rowing machine, bike, treadmill, and something else I don’t know the name of. I spent about an hour in there and afterwards felt 1000 times better.

July 7, 2018

This morning’s watch, while extremely cold, was interesting. The dive was to install a piece of equipment around Virgin that would use the flow of the vent to extract energy. I was struck by how smoothly everything ran, and how carefully the system must have been planned out to get the exact right positioning for the platform to capture as much flow as possible. It was fascinating to watch something being built (rather than replaced or plugged in) at the bottom of the sea floor.

The ear patch has worn off so its back to taking Bonnine as I still get sick with no medicine. I am just very grateful it works. This means I can read again and so I started working though the papers related to my project and just got more confused and off track. After talking to Deb everything makes more sense (as always) and I have written down in a few phrases what my line of thinking is. The data I have right now also supports the thinking, so things are looking good.

England won the match against Sweden and Brian (one of the cooks) and I were very happy, and the galley whiteboard broadcasted the message as “England 2 Ikea 0”.

July 6, 2018

Last night I started to realize that I couldn’t focus my eyes enough to read anything and most things were blurry. My thoughts were that I was just that tired, but I woke up and it was still bad. After talking to Riah about it she told me that it can be a side affect of the ear patch. At least I wasn’t going blind slowly. Took patch off this morning and now I’ll wait for it to wear off and hopefully I won’t get sick, but  I need to read papers and its just not worth it.

I went to take an hour long nap that turned into a 3 hour nap. When I returned to the living I learnt that Jason’s power box blew and now they have to recover it just using the winch, but they don’t know where it is so this will take a long time. Maybe I won’t have watch this evening.

July 5, 2018

We got to see Escargot and it was awesome. We could see the temperature-resistivity probe in it and on top there was a box called a pig. 

But nothing can compare to El Guapo. This vent is 16 meters tall since they last measured it and Deb said it had grown quite a bit since last year. I can’t seem to pinpoint how amazing it was to see it “in person” and how that feels so different than say watching the live stream or recordings at home. Just to sit there watching in the control van that was full of people with Deb taking in these out of this world images was something I hope I never forget. We took a good amount of 4K video and so we should be able to take stills from it and stich them together as the vent is so tall that Jason can only light it up when its close to it and so we only see parts at a time.

Now I have to work on catching up on sleep because I stayed in the van the whole night as I really didn’t want to miss seeing El Guapo and then I still had my usual shift at 4 pm, but don’t get me wrong it was very much worth it.

I guess it just takes time, but everything seems less overwhelming and everyone is way friendlier. I rather like this way of living (besides the super short showers and having to take medicine for seasickness that makes me sleepy). Its simple, I do my shifts, I sleep, I eat amazing food, and I tie knots, help on deck, and work on my project. For this time, I can step away from the world of material possessions and stresses. Its taken me a while to get used to it, but that’s how my brain works, it needs time to transition. But, its beginning to feel more like what I thought it would be (except having two 4 hour shifts instead of one). Also I took up tying decorative knots which I haven’t done since I started college and I had forgotten how much it centers me and calms me down.

On one of my shifts we came across this amazing frozen turbulence in the lava (see photo). Even though this lava is practically the same as on Hawaii I’ve never seen this type of thing before. We also saw a can of coke, and the excitement turned to sadness.

Just before going to bed Julie said there was a buoy that was recovered and it has muscles on it (see photo). The muscles were gooseneck muscles and while it was fascinating to watch their feelers(?) grasping and stretching we felt bad that they were just left on the deck out of water so we put them in a bucket with some sea water. I’m starting to get that feeling that I don’t want this to end (except the 4 am shift).

July 4, 2018

Something changed last night, and I shifted into enjoying everything more. Maybe it was because waking up at 3:30 was a bit easier today and because we got to see a sulfide-rich vent called Mushroom and an anhydride vent called Virgin. Also I got to talk to Eric F today and he wrote a program in Matlab to help sort out the seismic data. I continued my research and learned that not only are there ocean tides (the familiar water rise and fall twice a day), but there are land (Earth) tides that causes the land to rise and fall about 12 inches twice a day. Some people have studied this and how it relates to volcanoes so I think I will include that in my project.

Also sausage rolls. With chutney. Enough said.

It really doesn’t feel like the fourth of July and maybe that because we are far enough off shore that we are in international waters and not in the US anymore. The weather has been really nice so there are some moments I forget we are on a boat but maybe that’s just the ear patch working and me getting my sea legs.

I also started tying knots and I forgot just how much it helps me relax (much needed after a cup of coffee this morning which while keeping me awake also made me anxious and jittery).

Jason is diving the International district where all the super cool hydrothermal vents are including Escargot, the one with the temperature and resistivity probe is in that will be part of my project.

July 3, 2018
Waking up at 3:30 this morning was very hard for me as my stomach always decides to seek revenge when I get up before 6, after eating some I felt better. We took over the last shifts positions and soon after the Jason team decided to end the dive because they had been trying to plug the new cable into a port for the past 3 hours unsuccessfully. This was good and bad. I got to wander around but couldn’t go to sleep because no one was really sure when the next dive would start after we sailed to a new location. The next dive only happened at 8 so I could have gone to sleep, but once I ate breakfast I went to bed for 2 hours and felt much better after. During that time Jason had been doing more errands, but soon we will be transiting again to the ASHES hydrothermal vent field where we will actually be able to see some vents.

Lunch was nice because I got to talk to Deb for some time (very valuable time as she works very hard), as well as the Captain and got to hear some stories of how research ships used to be run.

I think I have a good idea of where to start on my project. Erik a grad student will be helping me write some code to look at the seismic data just specifically for the same area as the heat probe is in. Then I will be able to compare that to the temperature of the vent fluids and the resistivity.

July 2, 2018
The food has been excellent. I mean what can I say when they have my favorites (granadilla, crab, and ice cream). The biggest problem I am finding is that I get dehydrated quickly especially because the sea sickness ear patch and I don’t have a water bottle, so I have to keep reminding myself to go get a drink from the galley. I like going to the galley because they have nice crushed ice and the cooks are always happy to see me.

We are mostly just waiting to get to Axial Seamount at around 2 pm. We had a short tour of Jason at 11. When we arrived at axial we did a CTD which was fun. Soon after I had my first shift in the control van which lasts for four hours. Not much happened in the dive as it was for removing a piece of the Shallow Profiler and plunging cables and unplugging cables takes a very very very long time with Jason. It was interesting in the beginning but having four hour shifts every 8 hours is going to be a lot of waiting and watching.

I got to talk to Eric Olsen about the data Deb and I looked at yesterday and he gave me a paper to read which was my favorite part of the day. Now I have to find time to read it in-between sleeping and being in the control van, but I am looking forward to it.

July 1, 2018

The boredom continues as we will only leave at 4 pm. We did however have safety drills which helped spend the time. I have decided not to take any sea sickness medicine to see if I get sick or not. I really like my bunk because it has curtains and a very convenient shelf and light. We started to leave at about 3:30 and I really enjoyed sailing out of Newport and seeing the lighthouse north of us and the long beach. Not long after we got to the open ocean I started feeling sick, but it wasn’t bad so I decided to try and ignore it, however after getting a short tour of the Jason control van (which we have to take shifts in) I started to feel much more sick and gave in and took a Bonnine. The medicine does not start working immediately so I sat outside for a while and Eve brought me some bread and Katie B brought me some crackers and water and those made me feel much better and also I think the medicine started working. I talked to Deb for a bit after that and got some ideas for my science project. I then went to bed at 7pm.

June 30, 2018
Today we boarded the Roger Revelle and I got to see Jason in person for the first time. It is definitely about twice the size I thought it would be. It is quite mind-blowing for me to see it in person as I’ve known about it and Jason Jr. since I was little. I got my room assignment and tried not to get too lost in finding it again. My roommate is on the Jason team and helps repair it and probably many other things I don’t know about. The food was very good and I discovered the remaining granadillas (passion fruit) which was very exciting as I have only been able to find them in South Africa and they are my favorite fruit. Besides that, today we did nothing and I was bored.