Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
2010 Expedition to the Sea
  • August 5 - 13, 2010

Day 9 – Heading home
August 13, 2010
Transit and Arrival in Moss Landing, CA

Jenny writes: Our ETA is 14:15 to Moss Landing Harbor. This morning we are steaming in on flat calm, glassy seas in thick fog. We have been in microwave contact with MBARI since 03:30, when Lonny reports having gotten a series of email messages on his phone, which woke him up with the ring-tone notifications.

Pacific whitesided dolphins
Four Pacific Whitesided Dolfins are playing with our bow-wave as we travel in Monterey Bay. Dozens of Risso's Dolfins are porpoising and breaching nearby. Humpback Whales have been spotted. And land is in sight!

Dave writes: The calderas flanked by thick deposits of fragmental volcanic rocks is a pattern we have observed elsewhere, such as at Axial Volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, and at the Vance Seamounts just west of that same ridge, where the youngest rocks on the rim of the caldera are made of volcanic fragments. Such deposits are indicative of explosive eruptive activity rather than the widely observed effusive lava flows. These much younger seamounts are not encrusted with such thick Mn-oxides, making it much easier to sample and to see what the rocks really are. Next week we will really find out what we have managed to collect when we cut each sample on a diamond saw.

The cruise started out with a group of eleven scientists from five countries (USA, Canada, England, Australia, and Brazil) and three states (California, North Carolina, and Alaska) and ended nine days later with a close knit team that knew all the tasks to be done, and got them done. I am grateful for all their assistance on the cruise, especially those who suffered with seasickness during the first few rough days. ROV pilots Marko, DJ, Randy, and Buzz exceeded their usual stunning abilities and collected fantastic samples despite the endless cover of Mn-crusts and our ever-changing requests. Captain Ian Young and the crew of the Western Flyer made the trip safe and productive and chef Patrick Mitts fed us all far too well, as I am sure we will discover when we next step on the scales! Thanks to you all.

control room
The ROV control room just before lunch during dive D178. From left to right: Marko is co-pilot controlling the manipulator to take a rock sample, Buzz is the ROV pilot driving the vehicle, Jenny is at the camera controls, and Sarah is at the video station. The monitors show views from the various cameras, sonar, GIS map, CTD sensors, vehicle controls and navigation.

Jenny writes: Something so different about being at sea is that common tasks can be challenging because of the unpredictable motion. "One hand for the ship" is a rule. You can't set something on the counter without considering that it might slip off with the next roll of the ship. Traversing the crowded control room must be done with care or you'll end up in someone's lap or bang into the ROV pilot trying to do a delicate sampling job. Walking is easier with bent knees and a wide stance, and requires quick balance adjustments when a wall jumps over to smack you, or the floor drops away; you lurch like a drunken sailor down the passageways.

For me, the oddest sensations are in the shower. The only vertical and horizontal references are very close, and they are moving. With my eyes closed and hands up to rinse shampoo from my hair, I am depending on my feet, on a slippery floor, to tell the rest of me how to accommodate for the motion. There's only so much bracing I can do with my elbows. If I misjudge, on three sides of me are walls to fall against. On the fourth is a flimsy shower curtain, and beyond it, the toilet bowl. (I haven't yet had that particular surprise, but I hear stories.) The expectation of motion becomes reality, maybe it has to do with getting your sea-legs. You feel it even after disembarking. It's known as "dock rock." For several days more, my shower at home will seem to move!

moon pool
The view through the open moon pool of the clear, blue water sloshing wildly between the hulls of the ship is like looking into a bottomless washing machine. The cable at left is the tether for the ROV, which is working 3000 meters below us.

Ryan writes: Today was by far the most exciting day for me. For some strange reason I get really excited about sand-sized particles rolling down slopes and creating layer cake stratigraphy. Today we saw things indicating just that! There was a repetitive sequence in the walls of two nested calderas that contained a thick interval of interlayered pillow and massive basalt units capped by a 1-2 meter thick sandy clastic section. What this means is that a little geofantasy got started in my head. Fun!

I must admit I was skeptical after the first day, when a 5 inch manganese crust often obscured the fine details I was used to seeing on land. But after many days at sea now, each day getting better and better geologically, today was the icing on the cake and I feel geologically fullfilled, and my belly is filled too with some great food on the ship thanks to Patrick and the tuna caught by Benny. A great trip with a great group of people!

But even more exciting than all this, news from Norway says my little 8 month old girl got her first tooth yesterday!!! Very exciting! This cruise was my first trip away from her and I am really lookin' forward to getting home and seeing this little tooth!!

Previous log

 Daily Expedition Logs

Heading home
August 13, 2010

Read the log

Final dive
August 12, 2010

Read the log

A little something for everyone
August 11, 2010

Read the log

Rock haul
August 10, 2010

Read the log

Exploring calderas
August 9, 2010

Read the log

Full dive on Seamount A
August 8, 2010

Read the log

Stormy weather
August 7, 2010

Read the log

Sampling challenges
August 6, 2010

Read the log

Transit to the Taney Seamounts
August 5, 2010

Read the log


R/V Western Flyer

The R/V Western Flyer is a small water-plane area twin hull (SWATH) oceanographic research vessel measuring 35.6 meters long and 16.2 meters wide. It was designed and constructed for MBARI to serve as the support vessel for ROV operations. Her missions include the Monterey Bay as well as extended cruises to Hawaii, Gulf of California, and the Pacific Northwest.

ROV Doc Ricketts

ROV Doc Ricketts is MBARI's next generation ROV. The system breaks new ground in providing an integrated unmanned submersible research platform, with many powerful features providing efficient, reliable and precise sampling and data collection in a wide range of missions.

R/V Zephyr

R/V Zephyr is the primary support vessel for MBARI's autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) program. This 26-meter vessel is also used to maintain environmental moorings, collect time-series data along the California Current, and support scuba divers as they study near-shore habitats.

AUV D. Allan B.

The MBARI mapping AUV is a torpedo-shaped vehicle equipped with four mapping sonars that operate simultaneously during a mission. The multibeam sonar produces high-resolution bathymetry (analogous to topography on land), the sidescan sonars produce imagery based on the intensity of the sound energy's reflections, and the subbottom profiler penetrates sediments on the seafloor, allowing the detection of layers within the sediments, faults, and depth to the basement rock.

Push cores

A push core looks like a clear plastic tube with a rubber handle on one end. Just as its name implies, the push core is pushed down into loose sediment using ROV Doc Ricketts' manipulator arm. As the sediment fills up the core, water exits out the top through one-way valves. When the core is pulled up again, these valves close, which (most of the time) keeps the sediment from sliding out of the core tube. When we bring these cores back to the surface, we typically look for living animals and organic material in the sediments.


The box fits in a partition in the sample drawer. It is shown open, with an animal being placed into it by the ROV's manipulator. When the lid is closed, the box will hold water to protect the animals inside.

Benthic toolsled/
Manipulator arm/
Sample drawer with partitions

The benthic toolsled is attached to the bottom of the ROV for our geology dives. Its components are the manipulator arm and the sample drawer. The sample drawer is shown open on deck, full of rocks. Normally it is closed when the vehicle is operating and is opened only when a sample needs to be stowed. Partitions in the drawer help us keep the rocks in order. The rocks often look alike, but the conditions and chemistries of the eruptions are different so it is important that we know where each came from.

Sediment scoops

Canvas bags on a T-handle for collecting gravel or other materials that fall out of a push-core.

 Research Team

David Clague
Senior Scientist, MBARI

Dave's research interests are nearly all related to the formation and degradation of oceanic volcanoes, particularly Hawaiian volcanoes, mid-ocean ridges, and isolated seamounts. Topics of interest include: compositions of mantle sources for basaltic magmas and conditions of melting; volatile and rare-gas components in basaltic magmas and their degassing history; chronostratigraphic studies of eruption sequence and evolution of lava chemistry during volcano growth; subsidence of ocean volcanoes and its related crustal flexure, plate deformation, and magmatic activity; geologic setting of hydrothermal activity; origin of isolated seamounts; and monitoring of magmatic, tectonic, and hydrothermal activity at submarine and subaerial volcanoes.

Jenny Paduan
Senior Research Technician, MBARI

Jenny works with Dave Clague in the Submarine Volcanism project. On this expedition, Jenny will be in charge of the GIS work, including use of the recently acquired, high-resolution MBARI mapping AUV data of our dive site. She will also stand watch in the ROV control room, help with rock and sediment sample workup and curation once the vehicle is on deck, and coordinate these cruise logs. She is now quite solidly a marine geologist, but her degrees are in biochemistry (Smith College) and biological oceanography (Oregon State University). She is thankful for the opportunities that have led her to study volcanoes, and loves being involved with the research and going to sea. She looks forward to discovering more about how the Earth works.

Lonny Lundsten
Biologist, Video Lab Technician, MBARI

Lonny received a B.S. in Marine & Coastal Ecology from California State University, Monterey Bay, and an M.S. from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. His thesis work at MLML described the biological communities found at three seamounts off the coast of California. On this cruise, Lonny will be in charge of biological sample collection and processing and video data management. This work entails identifying unique biological and geological features that will be seen during the dive, while using MBARI-designed software to log the observations. He will also be preserving and organizing many of the biological samples collected during the cruise, preparing them for identification and further analysis by MBARI scientists and research collaborators.

Craig McClain
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center

Craig has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 30 papers in the area. Participation in dozens of expeditions has taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig's research focuses on the ecological and evolutionary drivers of marine invertebrate biodiversity and body size. He is the author and editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog and rated as the number one ocean blog on the web, and his writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, and Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

John Stix
McGill University

John studies large caldera-forming volcanoes and their eruptions—termed supervolcanoes and super-eruptions by the popular media—which have global impact. The underlying causes of these large eruptions remain enigmatic. John also studies volcano degassing, which can result in severe local, regional, and global impacts. Understanding the subterranean pathways through which volcanic gas is transported allows insight into the subsurface structure of volcanoes, and can also aid in eruption forecasting and better understanding magmatic-hydrothermal ore deposits. John's interest in this cruise lies in better understanding caldera development in marine environments in relation to underlying magmatic processes. John has been chair of the McGill Earth and Planetary Sciences Department from 2006 to 2010 and executive editor of the Bulletin of Volcanology from 2003 to 2010.

Isobel Yeo
Summer Intern, MBARI

Currently Isobel is an MBARI summer intern working with the Submarine Volcanism Group looking at how crust is built at intermediate-spreading mid-ocean ridges and how melts are supplied to seafloor eruptions. Isobel is also a second year Ph.D. student at Durham University in the U.K. At home she uses physical volcanology and geochemistry to study how huge volcanic edifices (called Axial Volcanic Ridges) are being built on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This will be Isobel's second research cruise and she can't wait to go to sea again!

Ryan Portner
Postdoctoral Fellow, MBARI

Ryan recently completed his Ph.D. at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, working on volcaniclastic and sedimentary rocks of the Macquarie Island ophiolite. His interests mainly focus on subaqueous mass gravity flows and their relationships to tectonic and volcanic controls. By identifying these relationships and implementing provenance and geochemical techniques, insight into the petrogenetic history of igneous and metamorphic source terrains is sought out. Soon to start a postdoctoral fellowship at MBARI, Ryan will examine the modes of volcaniclastic particle transport and dispersal from deep-sea eruptions, and their record of eruptive and magmatic controls.

Lucas Koth
Graduate Student
University of Quebec, Chicoutimi

Lucas Brião Koth finished his bachelor's degree in geology at the University of Brasília, Brazil, in 2008 and currently is working toward his master's degree at the University of Quebec, Chicoutimi. His research is focused on the relationship between dykes, synvolcanic faults, and mineralization associated with an Archean subaqueous volcanic center. His participation in this cruise will be complementary to his studies and is also a great opportunity to look at modern submarine volcanism and better understand the genesis of volcanic massive sulfide deposits (VMS) associated with these geological environments.

Sarah Hardy
Assistant Professor of Marine Biology
University of Alaska

Sarah has a B.A. in marine biology from University of California, Santa Cruz, an M.S. from San Francisco State University, and a Ph.D. in biological oceanography from the University of Hawaii. Her research focuses on the biology and ecology of benthic invertebrates, particularly in polar and deep-sea environments. She is especially interested in the growth, reproduction and dispersal of benthic invertebrates, and uses a variety of research tools including genetic techniques. On this expedition, Sarah is working with Craig McClain to conduct biological investigations on the fauna encountered on seamounts. Their goal is to determine the number of invertebrate species found at various depths on seamounts, and investigate whether (and why) seamounts are home to unique and/or more diverse invertebrate communities than other seafloor habitats. Sarah will also be collecting specimens for use in genetic studies to look at patterns of gene flow on seamounts, which will provide clues to tell us whether seamount act like isloated island habitats, or whether tiny invertebrate larvae are able to move between seamounts and the mainland.

Jason Coumans
Graduate Student, McGill University

Jason graduated in 2010 with an H B.S. in geology from the University of Toronto and is a M.S. student at McGill University, Montreal. His research focus will be oriented on the geology and petrology of the Taney Seamounts. His research interests are the physical, chemical and geodynamic processes that govern volcanism.

Justine Jackson-Ricketts

Justine recently received her bachelor of science degree in biology from Duke University, where she worked for Craig McClain at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. She will be entering the marine biology graduate program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in the fall with plans to pursue a career in marine conservation biology.