Leg 1 Logbook - Laser Raman Spectroscopy
Day 10 – Operation Deep Probe
July 16, 2009
0900 hours – On-station at Barkley Canyon, west of Vancouver Island, Canada.
Latitude 48 degrees 18.6 minutes N
Longitude 126 degrees 3.9 minutes W
Unlike yesterday’s dive plan where we attempted to visit as many gas hydrate mounds as time allowed and to poke each in hopes of finding free gas or oil, today’s dive plan was to systematically study just two or three mounds making pore-water profile measurements on top of, beside, and in a line away from each mound.
View through the A-frame on the fan tail of the R/V Western Flyer. One cannot see the coast, but if you look carefully you might see the tops of the mountains in British Columbia. A day this clear and bright is rare here but a welcome relief from the overcast and fog.
Inside the ROV control room, Peter Brewer directs the team investigating gas hydrate mounds in the deep sea. From left: Randy Prickett (ROV pilot), Peter Brewer, Ed Peltzer, and Keith Hester.
The day began bright and sunny which is unusual weather for this area but very much welcomed by all. So, while the crew looked for ways to work outside today, the ROV pilots and science team were stuck inside watching video monitors in the dark (above), although no one was complaining as these are the opportunities that we strive for. Today’s work was a series of carefully designed in situ pore-water measurements (below) that we designed to carefully peel back the conditions under which these mounds form and persist. While we methodically went about our business, we were visited by various denizens of the deep. Our most frequent visitor was the black cod or sablefish (Anopoploma fimbria) (below) and occasionally a flatfish would swim by (see below). As you can see by their close approaches, our analytical methods are totally benign. We often attract animals around our experiments and whether they have a equally strong passion for our work or are merely curious is anyone’s guess.
A black cod (Anoploploma fimbria) swims by as the ROV pilots carefully insert the laser Raman pore-water sampler into the sediment next to a gas hydrate mound.
A black cod comes in close to see what we are up to and offer some words of advice.
A flatfish (?Microstomus pacificus) swims by totally unaware of the world-class science happening just a meter or so away.
After a successful day sampling pore-waters around and on top of several hydrate mounds we moved off-site so that the Danish cable laying ship Lodbrog and the R/V Atlantis from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution could install some of the undersea components of the NEPTUNE cabled observatory (below). NEPTUNE stands for the North-East Pacific Time-series Underwater Networked Experiments.
The Danish cable laying ship Lodbrog and the R/V Atlantis from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution slowly emerge from the fog as they install some of the undersea components of the NEPTUNE cabled observatory.
If all goes well and they finish their work tonight, we will return to this site tomorrow. Otherwise we will yield to their needs and head off to another part of the canyon for a day of exploring. Stay tuned.
The tether management system on the R/V Western Flyer consists of a motion-compensating crane, a tension winch and the large drum that holds over four kilometers of tether.
For those of you who saw last week’s photo question on how well you know the R/V Western Flyer, here is the answer: Those mysterious bumps were grease stalagmites that form underneath the tether winch. As the ROV draws power through the tether, the wires on the drum get warm softening the grease and allowing it to slowly drip onto the deck below (see above and below).
If you look closely underneath the tether drum, you can see some grease stalagmites slowly forming. But don’t get too close, it is really greasy under there and deck crew gets quite upset if you track it throughout the ship.
On Friday, we will have one more mystery photo.
- Ed Peltzer