Evan Davis’s Blogs Leg 4

July 31, 2018

Today was a short dive but a good one. We got up for our morning shift and watched Jason go down to 2600 meters which took a good two hours. Once it got down there it unplugged a cable and placed the dust covers on the ends and came back up. Halfway up we were done with our shift.
The afternoon was spent transiting back to Slope Base which was going to take 18 hours to do. Once we get there we will do another dive but until then we are free to work on our projects. A little excitement happened during that period though when whales and dolphins were spotted off the bow of the boat! One even did a really good jump completely out of the water.

July 30, 2018

This morning was pretty exciting. Jason was down all night doing COVIS tasks like measuring temperature at vents and taking sonar measurements of COVIS’ position in relation to other landmarks. This most exciting thing though is that Jason grabbed a lot of rocks and brought them on board. I got to keep a couple pieces which is awesome! It is really crumbly and doesn’t stay together well but there are a lot of really cool textures. There are a tone of ropey pieces and so much glass. Lots of them have these glassy rims on them and there is one piece of pillow basalt that you can see the outside shell of glass with the basalt on the inside. It’s really cool stuff. The water is so cold down there that it just quenches the lava immediately. I hope I can get a piece suitable to make a thin section of but we will see after Leonid has his pick.

July 29, 2018

Today was kind of a slower day. The entire day was devoted to COVIS work which consisted of a lot of picking things up and moving them, then picking them up and moving them to a new spot. The things that were being moved a lot were temperature arrays that take measurements at different intervals. Two take very fast intervals and are not going to stay down for very long because they will fill up their memory cards. These were the ones being moved a lot to get lots of readings in lots of different places. This happened from 0800 until 0600 the next day, almost 24 hrs. Since it was a lot of the same motions over and over I did not stay in the van and watch the entire time. I got some things off my to do list since I am out here without many distractions it

July 28, 2018

I woke up for my morning 0400 shift and Jason was on its way up with the recovered profiler. I logged it surfacing and coming aboard and the science team got right to work replacing the board that it needed to get working right. Chris showed me how the boards get sealed inside of the metal housing. There are a series of O-rings to keep everything water tight and grease is applied to help the seal. When they put the board in they pump air out of it to create a vacuum inside and watch to make sure it holds. If it holds then they know they have a seal that is strong enough to keep the electronics safe. After the circuits are all safely back in the housing they are mounted on the crawler. The crawler is plugged in and runs a simulated profile to make sure that everything is running. Everything was working so they installed the crawler and started transiting toward the COVIS cite.

We go to the COVIS site and sent it down with Jason. This was not an easy task. COVIS had to be attached to the bottom of Jason and lowered gently until it rested nicely on the bottom in the right spot. It took a little bit of time to adjust the way COVIS was facing so that its sonar could capture the correct images then it was time to plug it in.

The cable was a good distance away from the instrument and had to carefully be routed to it as to not be laid across any vents. The pilots got the cable over to COVIS and plugged it in. There was some more excitement when it came time to remove a pin that allowed COVIS to pivot. The monkey’s fist knot that was attached to the pin found its way into the housing of COVIS and couldn’t be easily reached by the Jason manipulators. The pilot cleverly used a rod that had gone down with Jason for a different reason.

July 27, 2018

The dive today was absolutely spectacular. Jason dove to try and find a good spot to try and place COVIS. The winds were too high to put COVIS in so we took the opportunity to do some photo imaging of the hydrothermal vents. It is so cool to see these black smokers. Seeing the heat and mineral particulates really makes you notice how close this magma is under the oceanic crust. Thinking about that really points out that we are sitting at a spreading center and watching it live! The whole science team was extremely nice to answer all the questions I had today about the composition and processes that are happening here even though none of them are experts in it. They  even attempted to grab a piece of basalt from the ocean floor for me to examine but we couldn’t seem to get it. Oh well maybe next time. Watching the images Jason was capturing happen live while in the control van with all the curious scientists was fantastic. I was on the edge of my seat looking at these vents thinking about the processes of the earth that are causing them to happen and looking at all of the organisms that make it their home. It really made me think about life on this planet and the possibility for what it could look like on other planets. We probably can’t even imagine what it would look like somewhere else. We will just have to wait and see it.

July 26, 2018

Today we finished transiting to the Axial base at about 0700. The trip was about 200 miles and took all night. I didn’t have anything to do on my morning shift but at around 0800 Jason started its first dive. This dive was to see how everything worked with the deep profiler strapped on it.
The deep profiler and recovery at this site are not being done by hands on deck. The dock and charging station are both operating just fine so rather than pulling everything up on deck and reinstalling (a two or so day process), Jason was going to dive with a deep profiler attached to it. The plan was for it to dive with the profiler attached, attach the new one to the cable, grab the old one, and come back to the surface.

The first dive was to see how everything worked with the deep profiler strapped on Jason. The dive was successful. They dove, moved every way they could, surfaced, and came back on board. After Jason was back on board it was time to attempt the dive for installation. They found once Jason was underwater that it was leaning too far forward so they had to pull it back on board to adjust weight. The vehicle needs to sit perfectly straight for installation. They Added weight to the back and put it back in the water. At this point it was sitting perfectly parallel! The problem was that it was too heavy and Jason was using all of its power to stay afloat. They pulled Jason out again and everyone took a break for lunch.

July 25, 2018

Today started off with an early 0400 shift. When things don’t go according to plan then it often times makes for excitement. The crew had been working all night to move the mooring dock to the spot they wanted where it would be closer to the cable connector. When I got into the control van Jason was on its way down already. It got to the bottom and plugged in the cable without much troubles with the connector not engaging. It then started its ascent to the surface again.

Twice I exited the control van at and looked out on something that was surprising to me. One was another ship. So far, we haven’t seen much more other people sightings. This was a large shipping ship I think. The other thing I saw was a group of dolphins right next to the ship. It was so cool to just see them there without trying and they were so close! Really a cool sight.
After shift I took my morning nap. The morning nap has really become the backbone of staying awake out here. Something about the dark cold room while the ship gently rocks just puts me right to sleep when I am in the Jason van.
After waking from the nap I had lunch and got to work helping out with another CTD. This was the same process as the other day except we had to take dic tests and cap the bottles. The ship started taking us to Axial Base and while that was happening we did some chemistry. This was definitely a new experience. We had to titrate oxygen analysis samples while the ship was rocking and breaking through large waves. Keeping hold on the sample and measuring chemicals perfectly down to the .001ml was made possible by modern pipettes and electronic burettes.
The other scientific procedure we needed to complete was to prepare the chlorophyll samples. We poured 500ml of the sampled water through a very tiny filter. The water was vacuumed through as the filter was so fine. When the entire 500ml sample had been poured through the paper filter was folded up precisely and placed into a tube with 10ml of acetone. These samples were then frozen and ready to be sent off to labs that need them.

July 24, 2018

This morning started off great with a canceled 0400 shift so I got to sleep in. I had coffee and worked on my abstract for the GSA (Geological Society of America) conference and then had breakfast. I wasn’t scheduled to work until 1600 so I watched deck ops and tried to help out wherever I could.

While standing on the deck watching the countless yale grips the science party has to do every time we install a crawler, Chris gave Romina and I a short rundown of prepping the crawler. He showed us how the battery is charged via an inductive charging station so no electricity is passing through the water. He also gave us a short lesson in battery charging technology which was super interesting to hear.

I watched the very end of the installation and finally answered my question that I had been asking myself for a few days now. How do they unhook the mooring ball from the crane cable while there is so much tension on it? It turns out there is an acoustic release that is hooked to the crane cable and the mooring ball. When they have Jason dive and gently move the anchor to the position they want they then trigger the release which releases the mooring ball and floats up to the surface with the addition of the ball floats they attach to it.

After watching all of the deck ops for a while I helped Karen put a few pieces of reflective tape on the COVIS equipment. Some of the pieces will be taking different measurements and stay down for different times so they need to be identifiable by putting colored tape on them.
When my shift came around there was luckily a dive scheduled. This was an extremely deep 2900 meter dive so the first two and a half hours were spent watching water go by as the Jason descended 30 meters per minute. After it got to the bottom it started it’s task connecting the new mooring to the cable. Unfortunately when it was down there it realized there was not enough cable to reach the mooring so Jason needs to come to the surface and the anchor and mooring needs to be moved closer.

July 23, 2018

Today started with a shift at 0400 again. I was very well rested today and there was a dive that started right at 0500. The dive went extremely well. They were going down to recover a crawler and to do that they were going to need to attach a line to the float ball and then go down the line to find the crawler and attach some floats to it. Luckily the crawler was right below the float ball and already had floats attached to it which cut 4 hrs. off the dive time. After the Jason was back on board and data logging was done I went out on the deck to take photos of deck ops. While out there I was asked if I wanted to help do some of the yale grips. These are the way they secure the line and take tension off the different sections in order to transfer different ends to different spots. It was really cool to learn how to tie them and I felt like part of the crew. After that it was breakfast and time for a nap.

After that it was time for lunch and back to work. There was another plankton tow happening, so we went through the motions of that again. We attached the nets and the flow meters and hooked that all up to the cable on the winch. This time I wasn’t taking measurements so while it was in the water I learned another new skill. I helped prime the niskin bottles on the CTD apparatus. These will go off and collect water at different depths to take different measurements. There were then two CTDs done on either side of dinner that I was able to watch from the computer room.

At one point I asked Nick if the deep profilers were made from HDPE. I got an extremely interesting answer. The piece he was working on was made of Delrin but the pieces as a whole are an amalgam of different plastics. This is because the equipment needs to be at a neutral buoyancy with maybe a slight tendency to sink. Since water at different depths has different pressure and temperature the density changes. The density of the profilers needs to change at approximately the same rate but since there is no material that exactly mimics waters density at the same pressure and temperature they need to make the equipment from multiple plastics so the net density of everything together matches the density of water as closely as possible.

When the anchor for the deep profiler came aboard it brought a lot of mud up with it so the crew satisfied my thirst for some rocks by giving me a bag of it. Maybe I’ll do some analysis of it when I get back home but it’s pretty cool to have something to bring back from out here. If there is time I will be able to collect a sample of basalt at the axial caldera.

At the last part of my shift we had to prepare all the samples from the CTD. The oxygen was the most exciting as it is time sensitive and can easily be contaminated by the air. We rinsed the bottles and filled them and quickly added reagents and capped them. We then prepared nutrient, salinity, and clorofil samples. These consisted of rinsing and filling the bottles part way so they wouldn’t explode when frozen.

I have been having so much fun learning all of these new techniques I would have never been exposed to otherwise. It is extremely nice of all the crew and science party to answer all my questions and make me feel like part of the team. I can’t wait to test all the samples we prepared today.

July 22, 2018

I woke up this morning having slept through breakfast. It wasn’t a big deal I wasn’t hungry but it is amazing how easy it is to sleep with the room being completely dark like it is. The rocking of the boat helps now too that I am used to it. The 0400 shift was cancelled this morning since there was nothing going on so I didn’t set an alarm and slept straight through until 0830.

After having some coffee and a small bite to eat I went outside to watch the reinstallation of the deep profiler. The equipment install consisted of two components. The docking station referred to as the mooring and the crawler which is the piece of equipment that climbs up and down the cable and takes data and measurements. There is a spot on the mooring where the crawler docks and transmits its information through the cables. The team sent the mooring down and was preparing to send down the crawler when they learned that the beacon on the mooring was not communicating with the ship. They then had to bring up the mooring and install a different beacon before sending it down again and position the crawler for installation.

July 20-21, 2018

Today was my first day at sea. I arrived on the R/V Roger Revelle not knowing what to expect. I had some idea as I have toured ships and even spent the night on a submarine when I was a kid in boy scouts. That submarine was docked however and never submerged. We spent our first night aboard the Roger Revelle in port which was very much like staying in a hotel. We had a great breakfast, lunch, and dinner before an abandon ship and fire drill before finally getting underway. At first I didn’t realize we were moving until I looked outside and saw the ocean going by. The smooth ride only lasted a few minutes until we got out past the jetty. High winds had kicked up some very large swells that had delayed our departure until 1930. That delay, however, wasn’t enough to calm the briney beast and the boat soon started throwing itself and crashing through waves. I stayed out on the deck sitting at a table until a large wave crashed over the side of the ship and soaked my right arm and leg. I stood up contemplating whether or not I wanted to stay out or go inside when the captain made that decision for me. As I was standing he poked his head down the ladder and said to clear the main deck. After then going inside I decided to try my hand at sleeping. Sleep was not constant through the night but very restful. I would often wake when a large dip of the boat would roll me slightly and I would stay awake for a little wondering if I secured everything well enough. I would fall back asleep and let the cycle continue until it was time to be awake.

At 0315 my alarm clock woke me up letting me know I had a half hour until my first shift. I put some warm clothes on as the Jason van is cold for all the computer equipment. There was a dive scheduled for the morning and we needed conditions to be right before the dive could commence. We arrived on site at approximately 0400 and waited for the sun to rise to see if Jason would be making its first dive of the leg.
Jason made the early morning dive and it was extremely fun to be a part of. I was on data logging for its descent which went swimmingly. Jason descended while performing some smaller tasks on the way down. After my shift was over I handed the data logging task over to Romina and I continued to watch.

My plan was to try and sleep a little bit after lunch and be well rested before my next shift. This proved difficult however. I was very close to nodding off in the Jason control van. I made it to lunch and took my nap immediately after. What an amazing transformation a little sleep can do for you. After taking a nap I felt so much better and ready to take on my next tasks.
I watched the team recover a deep profiler mooring to fix it before redeployment tomorrow.