Easter Microplate Expedition
March 16, 2005 Day 5
Please visit the ChEss website for additional information and translations in Español, Português, and Français.
We are still motoring towards our first site at 38°S. We expect to arrive on the evening of March 20, so our first dive should be Monday, March 21. My observations upon "meeting Alvin" are here (hyperlink to text below). During my orientation it was so exciting just to sit in Alvin—even with the hatch open and even with Alvin locked down in the hangar. I was listening carefully to the pilot giving us our orientation but had time to daydream about being a mile and a half deep in the Pacific Ocean, looking for adventure. It's an amazing machine and I feel so lucky to have a first hand view of its capabilities.
For more of Caren's journal please visit page 2.
Nerida (l) and Ana (r) looking down into Alvin's sphere through the conning tower with Alvin pilot Galvin (center). Photo by Dan Layton-Matthews, University of Toronto
We FINISHED all four mussel pots yesterday (hooray!!) and we have proudly displayed them, lined up in formation, on our table in the main lab. I feel some parental responsibility for them, so I hope they do their job! The pilots joke that it will be no problem for
Alvin's manipulator arm to scrape off the $5 William and Mary stickers that we carefully applied on the silver pot surface. But we all know Tribe Pride can't be beat! I feel surprisingly comfortable so far in my constantly moving habitat here on Atlantis. I tried a little ping pong the other night, which is clearly more challenging when the ball AND the table are moving targets. The funniest part for me has been trying to stay on the exercise equipment as the ship sways back and forth. It felt like the stationary bike was
traveling on a very unpredictable and hilly path! I just tell myself that it burns more calories to ride the bike while struggling to stay ON the bike at the same time.
The swell continues to be on our starboard aft quarter, so the ride is very smooth at 12 knots, pedal to the metal. The swell seems to be increasing though, and occasionally a wave smacks on the hull hard enough to make it resonate next to my bunk down in the fo'c'sle. The sky was partly cloudy today and we pass from sun to squall and back. I gave my presentation at the science meeting tonight about the limu o Pele (lava bubble wall fragments - see http://www.mbari.org/volcanism) we hope to find. They have never been explicitly sampled for in this part of the world, and we believe they would be evidence of mildly explosive eruptions occurring on superfast spreading ridges, to add to what we have found now on slow and medium spreading ridges as well as other deep sea volcanic settings. Now that my presentation is over, I can focus on learning how the mapping systems work (tomorrow's excitement!)
Limu o Pele (left) and Pele's Hair (right), volcanic glass
fragments that result from lava bubbles being blown during eruption,
from Loihi Seamount, Hawaii.
The temperature has been decreasing for the last three days. Plot from the on-line ship's log.
Young ginger root purchased in Pape'ete and ginger candies. Ginger is a somewhat effective remedy for seasickness. My electronic wrist band is even more effective, in my experience. Nearly everyone has their sea legs now.
At the close of the day we are at about 28°S 131°W, about 170 nautical miles SSW of Pitcairn Island, which is just beginning to show up on the right margin of this map, as a tiny dot at 25°S. Pitcairn is the nearest habitable land from Easter Island, some 1100 nautical miles away.
All underwater photos were taken with the submersible Alvin, and are courtesy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.