Patrik Armitano Blog Leg 3

Golden sunset. Credit: P. Armitano, University of Washington: V23.

5 September 2023

Today, September 5th, started with some more logging in the van. I got to see lots of cool geological structures that were forming over the vents, and I saw some gigantic fish. I was informed that they were called “rattail fish”. After being in the van, I helped Mitch by cleaning two large cases of water collection tubes.

The transit started today and we were heading home. I knew that I didn’t have much time left in this experience and that I would miss it so I decided to make the most of my remaining time out on sea. There was a very beautiful sunset which painted the whole ocean and sky in a bright orange color.

Big Dipper. Credit: P. Armitano, University of Washington: V23.

Later that night at around 22:00 Han told us to step out for star gazing. I walked to the deck outside of the science room and waited for my eyes to adjust to the dark. Because of very clear skies, there were more stars visible than ever. I could see the milky way, Big Dipper, Orion’s belt, and even little dipper. But not only that, every single star around those constellations were visible, millions of them. I took many photos and they came out excellent, even with the iPhone’s night vision camera.

The HPIES instrument being lowered over the side of the Thompson at Axial Base. Credit: P. Armitano, University of Washington, V23.

3 September 2023

Today I woke up at 07:30 on September 3rd to make it in time for my 08:00 shift. I entered the Main Lab and went to speak with the other scientists. I was informed that the shipwould be moving in transit for the next hour so we wouldn’t be working in the Jason van. Instead, we transitioned to the wet lab and helped assemble parts of the IGT (Isobaric Gas-Tight Sampler). We used an air tank to pressurize the chamber and install the pistons inside.

Once we finished assembling the IGT we were brought to the Van, and I was taught how to log for Jason. It was incredible fascinating to see all the different screens and camera angles we could monitor Jason with, and the kind of communications the team used to lower it into the water.

The launch was delayed for 1 more hour so we used our time to get lunch. I ate a soup and went to the front deck with Brian to view the ocean in all its shining glory, whilst also taking in fresh air. I then returned to my bunker and took a 3-hour nap in the middle of the day.

When I woke up it was nearly dinner time, so I went to the Galley and ate fish sandwiches. Later at around 20:00 my night shift started, and this time I got the opportunity to log biological life and milestones for the dive. This time Jason was ascending. Suddenly however, a problem had occurred. A kink had formed in Jason cable as it approached about 50 m from the surface. The power had to be cut from the ROV and be brought up carefully.

Once on deck, the ROV was unable to dive for 8-12 hours because a segment of its cable had to be replaced. It was an unfortunate situation; however, it could have been worse and thankfully everything was still in one piece.

After the shift I went with Emily, Han, and Leo to the front of the ship to try and get a good view of the night stars. Unfortunately, there were a lot of clouds out that day though a few were visible. At one point I noticed a bright light shining on the dark horizon of the ocean and we identified it as another ship, which was very interesting to me as we weren’t the only ones out there. Eventually we headed back inside to go to sleep at around 00:00 (midnight).

The next day, September 4th we were back in the van because Jasons’ tether had been repaired. After our shift I attempted to get more rest. Later in the day I was asked by Leo if he needed help filming his documentary. I held the camera to get a good view of the ocean on deck while he spoke about Axial Seamount to his viewers. At 20:00 we were back in the van for more logging, except this time I was learning how to control the 4K camera systems.

Launching a late-night deep CTD cast to collect verification samples near the Axial Base Deep Profiler mooring. Credit: P. Armitano, University of Washington

2 September 2023

It was my second day out at sea, and I had woken up after having unreliable sleep. We were originally meant to leave the day before yesterday, however, time scheduling got delayed due to weather, so this day, September 2, 2023, was my first morning waking up in the pacific.

I didn’t expect sea sickness to hit as hard as it did for me. Unfortunately I had gone to bed the previous night without taking any medication, as I had already applied an anti-nausea patch behind my ear which is supposed to last for 3 days. Ultimately, I didn’t want to make the mistake of mixing medications. I do not remember much from that morning, other than eventually making it to lunch as my breakfast and heading back to my cabin around 01:10 due to feeling worse. I tried to take a nap and ended up sleeping until 03:59, which was around the time I decided to get up and go to the Main Lab to work on my blog post.

After reading and listening to music, I had finally waited for the clock to turn to 20:00, which was when my shift started. I met with the people in my group in the Main Lab and discussed what the plan was going to be.

We were supposed to work with the CTD rosette, however it was not ready yet, so while we waited I spoke with some of the scientists about what might be a good research project to study. When it reached around 20:30, we were ready to go outside to help.

We were tasked with preparing the CTD’s Niskin bottles for sampling ocean fluids at various depths. We first started by unclipping the fine lines that secured the top and bottom lids with each other. We then pulled each top line up into the center where they could be clipped into an open position. I was surprised with how strong the bottles’ closing mechanism line was. We then repeated the same steps for the bottom lids, and ensuring that a white side cap was properly set in the raised position. After that we were ready to watch the CTD get deployed off the side of the ship into the water from the winch.

Around 22:00, I got to sit in the control room in the computer lab and monitor the depths and oxygen levels that instruments on the CTD was reading, and how fast it was descending. I was taught how to communicate with the Thompson crew working the winch to stop at certain depths so the bottles could be triggered shut electronically to collect samples at specific depths for follow-on verfication of cabled instruments.

Leaving Newport and heading out to the ocean on the R/V Thompson. Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington; V23.

1 September 2023

I started the day by waking up at 09:50 in the morning and attended the safety meeting for the new students and scientist who had boarded the ship. During the meeting we were informed of the proper protocol in case of an emergency and how to respond. For this cruise, most students from Leg 2 of the trip also stayed on for Leg 3, which meant that I was one of the few new people who went to this meeting. I even tried on the lobster suit (survival suit) which was designed to keep us warm in case of needing to enter the ocean. We left the dock in the R/V Thomas G. Thompson a day late due to inclement weather.

The ship began leaving the dock at 2:30. At this point I had already stepped outside to see how the Thomas G. Thompson would leave the bay. There were already many sea lions and whales to spot which were excellent subjects to take photos of with my camera. I noticed a rapid change in the wave size as we passed the last few rocks and headed into the open ocean. This was when I could feel the most drastic change of all, the motion and stability of the boat.

As we strayed farther from the land, the boat’s rocking picked up fast, and what I first noticed as feeling like a roller coaster quickly turned into the realization that I could not stand or travel without the forces pushing me in different directions.

I went down into the Main Lab to sit down and hopefully be able to relax a bit, however this is when the seasickness hit like a truck. I was dizzy and disoriented and couldn’t move around despite the effects of the nausea medicine that I had taken the night before.

Later, around 16:30 I decided to step out onto the deck of the boat to receive fresh air and view the horizon of the ocean in hopes to alleviate some of the symptoms. At around 17:30 the boat had reached the point where land was no longer visible, and we were surrounded by the vast ocean. Later, we could even see the sunset. The sun wasn’t visible, however, it projected a beautiful gradient of all the colors in the rainbow. At around 20:00, the moon was visible in a deep crimson red color.