Leg 2 Begins!

After the successful conclusion of the very challenging first leg of VISIONS’23, we demobilized from Leg 1 and mobilized for Leg 2 on Wednesday, August 23rd. This included the departure of most of the Leg 1 participants and the arrival of many new scientists, engineers, and students, as well as some additional equipment, making for a very full back deck on the R/V Thompson. New participants joining the ship for this leg include eight VISIONS’23 students, four UW APL engineers, two engineers from the University of Bremen, one graduate student from Victoria University of Wellington/NIWA, and 3 UW RCA scientists. The new arrivals participated in a safety

Victoria University of Wellington/NIWA graduate student (and former VISIONS’14 student) Katie Bigham and RCA Research Scientist Mariela White try on their survival “Gumby” suits during the Leg 2 safety meeting. Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington.

drill Thursday afternoon, including the donning of survival suits.

This busy day of preparation was in anticipation of our early departure from Newport on Thursday at 0700. We left Newport in a fog bank and headed west to Axial Seamount, located ~241 miles away. The weather has been excellent (quite a change from Leg 1!) and the Thompson should arrive on site around 0400 Friday morning, where our first task will be to take a verification CTD near the Axial Base Shallow Profiler prior to its recovery.

This long transit to our first site is a busy time with equipment being prepared and students learning their way around the ship, as well as what they will be doing on the voyage. Some of this learning came in the form of a tour of the ROV Jason and its control van, where students will sit 4-hour watches capturing valuable logs and images during the dives. More learning occurred during a CTD preparation meeting where RCA scientist Mariela White walked students through the basics of a CTD cast and a short presentation after lunch from Chief Scientist Mike Vardaro giving more background on the RCA and deep-sea biology.

Leg 2 VISIONS’23 students Alessia Simmen, Brian Lam, and Mei Ettari (with MARUM engineer Eberhardt Kopiske in the background) as the Thompson leaves Newport for the start of Leg 2. Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington.

We anticipate some exciting dives in the days to come. First up, the swapping of instruments at the Axial Base Shallow Profiler which acts as an island for a fantastical animal community.