July 24 - August 6, 2006
July 28 update
John Stix writes: I have studied many volcanoes on land but never any underwater. So when Dave Clague invited me to join this cruise, I jumped at the opportunity. It was a wonderful chance to explore underwater volcanoes with a state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicle. Many of these volcanoes have depressions called calderas at their summits, and these caldera structures in particular interest me. On land, the largest calderas, such as Yellowstone, are the result of super-eruptions which have devasatating effects globally. But little is known about submarine calderas. Do they form from explosive eruptions? If so, what is the nature of an underwater eruption column, compared to one in the atmosphere? How does a submarine caldera eruption affect the surrounding environment, including marine life and its diversity? All these questions are fascinating, and we hope to find at least some of the answers by diving into the Vance and Axial volcano calderas.
Being a landlubber, I also have never been on a scientific cruise, so everything on board the R/V Western Flyer was new to me. After an initial bout of seasickness, which seemed to be experienced by everybody, I am feeling much better, with much enthusiasm mounting for our first dive tomorrow. Our cook Derek churns out amazingly good meals, and we eat like royalty. I have my own coffee cup named "Melanostomias" after some marine organism which I have yet to identify. The sleeping berths are very comfortable and even fit my 6-foot frame. There is a great positive energy amongst the crew which rubs off on all of us. And finally, it is pretty amazing to be in a friendly small group aboard such a vessel in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!