Cathe Gill Leg 4 Blog

A clump of tubeworms is sampled for other “hidden” creatures thriving on the vent called Mushroom. Credit: C. Gill, University of Washington, V21.
September 1: Sampling Deep Sea Biology
This cruise is such a wealth of opportunity and education. Last night I was able to take advantage of a hands on activity with Polycheates sampled from the actively venting structure called Mushroom in the ASHES hydrothermal Field –Worm Duty!
From one of the samples brought up by Jason in a sample box from a previous dive, Katie B. and Andrew showed me how to separate the tiny worms from the wad.
Pillow lava painting: Credit: C. Gill, University of Washington, V21.

August 29:  Pillow Lava Painting
One of the most amazing landscapes on the seafloor is in the ASHES hydrothermal site, the pillows. This is lava that flows and forms rounded pillow like structures. The roundness and uneven sizes makes a nice alternative to the flatness of other lava flows at other sites.

Water color of the Tiny Towers site. Credit: C. Gill, University of Washington, V21.

August 29 Tiny Towers
I set up my small art kit of paints in the control van today, right after my morning shift of video logging. It’s such a wonderful landscape deep down there, active vents and amazing colors, it has an other worldliness, mysterious and unique.. As Jason moved slowly over the scene unplugging and plugging, I saw such amazing colors and textures, shimmering areas where vents were active.

A cabled broadband seismometer and hydrophone enclosed by large pillow basalts at Eastern Caldera. Credit: UW/NSF-OOI/WHOI; V21.
August 27: Eastern Caldera
We’ve transited out to Axial Seamount, 22 hours, to maintain and check on equipment on the seafloor. These rock formations are lava flow, forming ‘pillows’ because of the drastic temperature changes of 2000°F lava as it hits the near freezing seawater at nearly a mile beneath the oceans’ surface.
On my watch this morning we (Jason) went inside the caldera (collapsed summit) of the volcano to change out equipment, and this is the ‘landscape’.
The caldera is actively rising as melt is transported into the volcano and is expected to erupt within this decade.  Eerie but beautiful. No critters anywhere. Eerie but beautiful.
The Thompson in transit to Axial. Credit: C. Gill, University of Washington, V21.

August 26: Transit to Axial

We’re on our way to Axial, site of vents, chimneys, lava flows, critters, oh my!! A twenty hour trip across endless and beautiful seas of blue gray, broken only by the whiteness of the waves off the back of the ship. It seems like a hunker-down kind of day, just getting things done before the busy schedule of the dives begin.

My shifts are both 8-12, morning and evening, which gives me a reasonable sleep/eat time in between. I am learning to be a sea logger, and a video logger, alternating each shift. The active Jason Van is amazing.

A lava flow seen through the eyes of C. Gill. Credit: C. Gill, University of Washington, V21.

We student loggers watch and record and take photos all of Jason’s moves as the various teams up front choreograph the many parts of each dive.  Last night they brought down a new Profiler and retrieved the old, and cleaned the cable of all the biofoul that has colonized it and called it home since the last time it was visited.  Often we see some wonderful fish, jelly, and critters I have no name for (yet).