Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Vance Expedition
July 24 - August 6, 2006

July 28 update
Transit day

Jenny writes: The weather has improved and we are steaming at a comfortable pace toward Vance Seamounts in time to start a dive tomorrow morning. Then we will be on a normal dive schedule for the rest of the cruise, with the vehicle in the water at 6:30am local time. We are all relieved that the weather is better and we might actually get some science done. We did some control room training and vehicle prepping today. It is surprisingly pleasant to walk down a corridor of the ship and not have the wall reach out and bash you or be levitated and thrown against it.

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!

Dave washing
Dave prepping the jars for the glass suction sampler. The jars have a fine mesh on the bottom and mount into a carousel on the ROV. Small biological and volcanic glass samples will be suctioned through a hose into a jar and then the carousel will be rotated to use the next jar.
styrofoam cups
We are decorating styrofoam cups to send down with the Tiburon tomorrow. The pressure of sea water increases by one atmosphere every 10m depth, so at 2330m (the depth we'll start our dive tomorrow), the pressure is 233 times atmospheric pressure and will squeeze the gas from the foam and shrink the cups.

Joe and Jenny
Joe and Jenny getting the wet lab ready.
Mike and Dave
Chiefs Mike and Dave having a friendly pow-wow in the dry lab, discussing theories of lava emplacement.


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