I woke up this morning and was told that Jason was stuck with its basket 500 m deep because they had problems with the winch and level wind and so we weren't able to pull Jason out of the water. Schedule was rearranged and Deb told us we are going to have to go into port earlier than scheduled because they are going to have to work on the winch with the spare parts for the next cruise. I could only imagine how much Deb, all the scientists and engineers have to think about this problem, find a solution and deal with all the uncertainties that come with it. One thing I learn going out on a field work is that things will always go the way you plan and you could always prepare for the unexpected events but it's a low probability that you'll get it perfect. I respect and admire the way Deb, the scientists and engineers are still doing their best, still as positive as they could be and joke, smile and laugh while doing their job despite the pressure they must feel dealing with the issue.
So a more happening update, yesterday Michelle and I helped Theresa out with labelling her vials for the water sample from her Osmo pump from last year that she recovered the other day. I did the labels on the small machine where you type in the label number, press print and push down the built in cutter in the machine and arrange it in order for Theresa and Michelle. For a moment, I felt like a 19th century government clerk that works in the City Hall typing out the receipts for people's taxes. But doing it with Theresa and Michelle actually made the activity more fun than it sounds. But halfway through it I had to leave for my shift as watch standers in the control van.
So during my watch we were still down at ASHES near the vent Inferno and Mushroom and we were deploying the thermistor array. So the thermistor array functions to take temperature of the region its in and provide a 3D visualization as it has 24 temperature sensors in its small blue wire built into a triangular prism body frame. We also took temperature of the hydrothermal vent Inferno and Deb said that it has heated up so much from ~270 celcius and now it's ~300 celcius. Deb also pointed out a few different species of worms – that I had no idea existed – that live on the chimneys like Scale worm, Sulfide worm, Tube worm and Palm worm. You would think that there's only so many ways that you could survive in these extreme environments but the ecosystem that actually exist prove it to be infinite.
August 14, 2017
So, I've been sick the past two days. A cold and sea sick isn't a really good combination, but I'm feeling a lot better today. We had an 18 hour transit yesterday from Axial Base to the ASHES hydrothermal field (one of the sites at Axial Caldera). And now we have only around 4 days left until this cruise meets its end and I'm praying for more productive and energetic remaining days. I've missed a lot the past two days, they did CTD, pickle fishing, and Cheryl did star gazing last night and saw shooting stars. I feel bummed that I missed all these, but it's okay I bet there's a lot more to look forward to (trying to be positive for myself ha..ha..). Hoping tonight is another night of clear sky.
Yesterday, the first dive after we reached ASHES fell on my watch shift. So I got to sit in the control van and watch Jason dive down to ASHES. We recovered an HD camera that was deployed in 2016 and replaced it with a new one. The old camera is located at one of the hydrothermal vents called Mushroom and so while recovering the camera we went for a short tour at Mushroom and its neighbouring vent Inferno. These environments are just so majestic and every time, every single time, you take a look at them you realize how you're only a small part of an infinite undiscovered universe. I overheard Deb said over the microphone that Inferno was more active and it had small sized chimney growing on top of its own chimney walls. And I don't know if I missed it before on our previous dives at the caldera, but I realized the way the bacterial mats flourish in between the lava cracks because there are seeps there, although it's not as hot as the plumes from the vents. And I find the pattern the bacterial mats make on the seafloor so mesmerizing. Honestly, I still haven't gotten over the awe after diving with Jason at Southern Hydrate Ridge and I don't think these environment and ecosystem will ever fail to amaze me.
August 11, 2017
Today is the first time on the second leg that I got to be on watch for 4 hours straight (except when I went for dinner). During my whole watch we were swapping the underwater HD Camera at Southern Hydrate Ridge. I'm starting to understand and recognize the plethora of acronyms on this cruise like LV01C which is the low voltage junction box located 1 km from PN01C, which is at the Endurance Offshore Site. The first time I tried to read the instrument guide book, it felt like I was reading english for the first time. And now it makes more sense than ever before.
This morning Cheryl and I tried on our Gumby Suit and it was so oxygen-consuming, which makes the situation extra funny for me and Cheryl. Both of us are 5 ft tall so the Gumby suits were flabby on us and I swear it wasn't sexy. Though I'm pretty sure I'd thank that suit when I'm freezing in the water, but let's hope I don't need to wear it again.
A lot of things went on yesterday !! The engineers from the Applied Physics Lab flew their drone and got a really beautiful video of the boat with a bird's eyeview. They gave that video to Mitch and Mitch gave his magical touch and the video turned out to be extra extra fascinating. I also learned to do dissolved oxygen analysis with Julie. A whole year of high school chemistry where I learned acid base reaction and that Wrinkler method finally came to good use. And I'm so amazed by the titration machine we used. It was super accurate and it had light attached to it that helped with seeing the color fade. It saved us the job of bending our knees and back for that parallax error and accurate reading and putting a white paper behind the conical flask. The machine also had a built in magnetic stirer. If only I had used this machine back then it would've save a page of the evaluation on my lab reports.
I also got a quick Submarine Volcano 101 lesson from Deb. I thought I understood the basic concepts of plate tectonics and volcanism but there's always something new every time I learn the same thing with different people. It helped me on making my video script more concise on the volcano explanation. I also ran on the treadmill for the first time on this boat. I ran for a solid 30 minutes and I realized that running on a treadmill on a rocking boat requires double the mental capacity than running on a stable land. And I'm confident this wasn't me gaining weight.
August 9, 2017
Today is the our first day at sea for the second leg of the Cabld Array cruise. The plan was to have 3 dives with Jason, but unfortunately the visibillity in water was snowed with organic flocs on the two 80m dives that we did.
I helped Theresa (one of the grad students on the second leg) to set up an instrument called the Mosquito (a benthic flow meter). A three PVC legged instrument with needles on it and run on osmosis pumps. I've learned to set up the osmosis pumps with Katie during the first leg and now I see how the whole system put together.
My new roommate is Cheryl and I'm so glad because I Cheryl is a really nice person and very experienced in the field. So I get to hear a whole lot of good stuff about field work from her. I'm really glad that Leg 2 is going well for me so far. Looking forward to many other things !