Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Mendocino Fracture Zone Cruise - 2001
August 20 - 30, 2001
Over 300 km off the California-Oregon Coast
Crew

Click on any name to read an interview:
Debra Stakes, Peter Girguis, Shana Goffredi, Anne Trehu, Martin Fisk
Jenni Kela, Bethany Schaarschmidt-Ames, Betsy Berg, Susan Potter, Tony Ramirez


Debra Stakes
MBARI Marine Geologist

What is your role on this cruise?
I will be the Chief Scientist on the cruise. This means that I have the responsibility of deciding the priorities of the cruise and exactly where the ROV should dive. The project is funded by my MBARI geochemistry project for which I promised certain scientific and technical accomplishments.Like most cruises, there will be other senior scientists joining us on the cruise, so I don't really have to face making all the decisions by myself.

What are your primary goals?
Our goals are to study the tectonic history and structure of the northernmost extent of the San Andreas System, as exposed along the Mendocino Fracture Zone. The MBARI program, lead by Debra Stakes, will focus on the lithology of uplifted oceanic crust.The seven dive days of this cruise will explore the deformed ocean crust of the Mendocino Ridge, the uplifted contact between the Pacific and Gorda plates and the enigmatic channels on the easternmost Gorda Escarpment

What do you expect to find?
We will be conducting research on the Gorda Escarpment in order to test hypothesis about the origin and makeup of this area.Hopefully we will be able to support our hypothesis, or perhaps even come up with a new hypothesis, about the way that the Gorda Escarpment formed.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a research cruise is actually sailing away from the dock. At this point, there are no more proposals to write or things to buy. If you forgot to bring something, you must innovate. You have a fixed plan in your head and you must always be prepared to be surprised. Each surprise may demand a change of plans!
My least favorite part of the cruise is the last few days before we get to sail. This time is all taken up with worrying over the last details. How many rock buckets to bring? How big should the truck be that will return our equipment and samples to our home base? Are the airline tickets all arranged? Are the rental vehicles all arranged? And we all have family logistics to worry over. I have a 7 year old daughter that needs transportation to and from summer camp and lessons. The list goes on and on. Sometimes I am lucky to remember to pack my toothpaste. There's no store on the ship....

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I decided to be an oceanographer after I saw a movie in fifth grade about exploring the earth's last great frontier. I was definitely most attracted to the discovery part of the job and the travel to exotic places. I also liked the idea of not having to choose one science to focus on. Oceanography was a blending of all sciences in the pursuit of understanding the ocean and the seafloor. I was also good at mathematics and science as early as fifth grade. I remember tutoring my friends in sixth and seventh grade.When I started college, I decided to major in chemistry, which was the most challenging subject for me in high school. What I discovered was that I did great in all my math classes, really good in physical chemistry and the laboratory sciences and really bad in organic chemistry and any other course that required extensive memorization (boring, boring, boring). After two years of struggling in college, I remembered my goal of oceanography--the blending of sciences to understand the natural world. So I decided to add geology as a second major, and became the first real "geochemistry" major at Rice University. I discovered that physical chemistry and thermodynamics control rock chemistry and even the mineralogy. Chemistry is a lot more colorful when you can hold the results in your hand! My undergraduate days were followed immediately by five years of graduate school with a focus on marine geochemistry and then two post-doctoral programs. The first program took me to the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in the submersible ALVIN and the second took me to the deserts of Oman to look at fossil seafloor. Since then I have spent time both at NSF and as a college professor. MBARI is definitely the best possible realization of my grade school dreams.

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Peter Girguis
Postdoctoral Researcher, MBARI

What is your role on this cruise?
I am collecting sediment samples from various sites, particularly cold seeps, and looking at changes in community composition as a function of the sediment chemistry.

What are your primary goals?
My primary goal is to find sites enriched in anaerobic methane oxidizing microbes. These bugs play a large role in global methane cycling, and they're just plain cool. Also, my secondary goal is to stay standing in bad weather.

What do you expect to find?
I don't know, and that's why I'm out here. This is an exploratory cruise for me, which means that I have no preconceptions about what we'll come across. It should be exciting!

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a research cruise is when I get to take a break and have a moment of pause. Usually, I try to watch the sun set. If I'm busy at that time, I'll try to take a break and stargaze before I go to bed. Those moments are amazing. My least favorite part of a cruise is being away from my loved ones and friends. Thanks to email, however, I get stay in touch. What a change from ten years ago, eh?

Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc? How did you become one?
I'm pretty certain I decided to become a scientist after taking pre-medicine courses for a year. Medicine didn't interest me, but marine biology completely captured my attention. Learning about hydrothermal vents got me hooked (so to speak). At that point, I switched my major to marine biology. As a graduate student, I got to study hydrothermal vents, and even dove five times in the ALVIN submersible. Those dives, without a doubt, were the best part of my education.

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Bob Duncan Shana Goffredi
Research Technician, MBARI

What is your role on this cruise?
Biologist and PI for two of the dives.

What are your primary goals?
1) To investigate a previously discovered seep - to determine it's extent, assess the ecological setting, and to collect seep and non-seep fauna. 2) To investigate an additional target on the seafloor (~15 km east of the known site) that is another potential seep environment.

What do you expect to find?
We expect to find interesting environments, such as cold seeps, in which unique animals are found. Collecting seep fauna is important to us because these animals will be used in phylogenetic and molecular population studies of seep and vent species in the east Pacific. Non-seep fauna will be preserved and given to specialists that can identify them.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of the cruise is the excitement of discovering new species of animals that are completely new to science (close seconds are the incredibly fresh air and the brightness of the night sky). My least favorite part is the uncomfortable beds (and the bad collection of movies from the 1970's).

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
After arriving in San Diego for my undergraduate schooling, I had a few marine biology professors that were instrumental in helping me make my decision. In college I was involved in independent research on the metabolism of sea birds, and then I transitioned to studies on the metabolism of deep sea creatures during my graduate work. The rest is history.

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Anne Trehu
Professor, Oregon State University

What is your role on this cruise?
I am a seismologist who led a cruise to the Gorda Escarpment last year (May, 1999). The data from this seismic cruise have been used, in conjunction with high resolution seafloor bathymetry obtained by MBARI, to plan the dive sites we will visit during this cruise as well as to locate cores that will be obtained when we are not diving.

What are your primary goals?
To obtain "groundtruth" data to help interpret the seismic data. Samples are needed to reconstruct the geologic history resulting in the seismic patterns.

What do you expect to find?
We are hoping to find evidence for fluids resulting from dissociation of gas hydrates in seafloor gullies that are found adjacent to seismic evidence for gas hydrate in the subsurface. We are hoping to determine the type of rock forming basement ridges in this region by drilling into this rock where the seismic data indicates it should be exposed on the seafloor. We are hoping to obtain samples of older sediments that should have been exposed on the seafloor by erosion in a few spots and which can be traced throughout the region in the seismic data. We hope to integrate information from the samples and the seismic data to reconstruct the history of this region and it possible impact on past climate.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part is being able to get away from the cares of daily life and concentrate on an integrated set of problems related to a single theme. I also enjoy the early stages of planning for and proposing a new project and of interpreting the data from a cruise.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I never really made a coherent plan to become a scientist. I majored in geology in college because I was interested in the prehistoric anthropology at that point in time when I had to choose a major, and the geology/paleontology department in my college was a better place to study this than the anthropology department. Independent research, including a thesis, was a major component of the undergraduate program at my college, and I ended up finding interesting problems to explore in geophysics. One of my projects led to the chance to go to sea. It's been an ever-changing adventure since then.

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Jenni Kela
Intern, MBARI

What are your primary goals?
To collect hard rock samples from the Mendocino Transform Fault for geochemistry, and to image a complete crustal section exposed on a fault scarp that we believe is a coherent structure.

What do you expect to find?
Rocks and seeps.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Seeing the underwater world live/working in shifts.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I became a scientist because geology is exciting. I went to school and got a degree.

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Bethany Schaarschmidt-Ames
OED Operations Administrator, MBARI

What is your role on this cruise?
I am in charge of the VICKI annotation and sample sorting/archiving.

What are your primary goals?
To learn more!

What do you expect to find?
Well, a bunch of rocks (since Debra Stakes is the Chief Scientist), hoping to see some of the octopuses we saw last year.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Favorite part is definitely the dives. It makes me feel like I'm on a National Geographic special or something. So exciting to dive with the ROV; the ship and crew are awesome.
Least favorite? That's tough...I suppose it would be the lack of sleep. Seems like just as soon as you get accustomed to all the rocking and noises the ship makes, it's time to go home.

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Martin Fisk
Professor
College of Oceanic & Atmospheric Sciences
Oregon State University

What is your role on this cruise?
Geologist

What are your primary goals?
Collect rocks that delineate the trace of the major fault that connects the San Andreas Fault to the Gorda Ridge.

What do you expect to find?
We expect to find rocks from the ocean crust that was forced upward by a collision of tectonic plates sometime in the past 10 million years. Rocks from the base of the Gorda Escarpment may be from the mantle.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Favorite - being the first one to find something new.
Least favorite - being away from family.

Why did you decide to become a scientist/engineer/etc? How did you become< one?
To satisfy my natural curiosity, to work on interesting and difficult problems, to travel, to work outside. The normal track of a bachelors and Ph.D. degrees from universities and research positions at universities.


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