Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Submarine Volcanism
Hilo Reefs 2006

Recollections from the Hilo Reefs 2006 Pisces expedition

In October 2006, Jenny joined an expedition on the R/V Ka'imikai-o-Kanaloa (also known as the KOK) with the submersible Pisces IV. Dr. Donald Potts of the University of California, Santa Cruz was the Chief Scientist. Our mission was to explore the drowned coral reefs off of Hilo, Hawaii. Read more about drowned coral reefs around Hawaii.

We didn't post daily cruise logs from sea (it was a very intense, week-long cruise and we had limited email contact). Post-cruise, these are Jenny's photos and recollections about the trip, a blog of sorts. Click on the images for larger views.

October 13: before departure

Mauna Kea View of Mauna Kea from near my hotel in Hilo, the morning before our departure.

KOK 223 foot-long R/V Ka'imikai-o-Kanaloa, at the pier in Hilo, Hawaii.
Pisces on deck The Pisces IV manned submersible on the aft deck of the ship. One pilot and two observers are sealed into a sphere that keeps them at 1 atmosphere pressure, and they view the sea floor through the three round view ports visible in this photo. Samples are collected using a manipulator arm (hard to see in the photo).
ROV The tiny ROV RCV-150 in its cage on the upper deck of the KOK.

October 14: sailed at 8AM, dove at 9:50AM, P4-165

on deck On deck of the KOK, looking over the top of the Pisces toward shore. Jody W. and I were the first to be tapped to be observers in the sub, and we dove in the Pisces on the 345m reef.
Launch Launch of the Pisces over the stern of the ship, with Jody and me inside!
samples Members of the science party peering into the science basket of the Pisces at the samples we collected during our dive. The samples were coralline algal deposits with only a few small coral fragments embedded, rather than big reef corals as desired. This turned out to be the story of the samples for this dive series.

October 15: Kona earthquake

I don't have any photos of it, but on the ship we felt the M6.7 earthquake this morning, the epicenter of which was near Kona on the other side of the Big Island! It felt to me like the ship made abrupt maneuvers at speed: it shuddered and rolled oddly, the engines cavitated, and everything creaked. The Captain thought a new engine had been brought up and was running poorly. USGS data series 506Others thought we had run over fishing gear. Christina R had been in Santa Cruz during the Loma Prieta earthquake,and recognized the slam we felt to be an earthquake. I've only experienced long rolling seismic waves before (knock on wood), and that was not what we felt on board! The dive today, P4-166, was on the 335m reef.

Followup: The USGS has published a downloadable booklet mapping earthquake damage, linked to a separate PDF presention of photos of damage and recovery efforts.

October 16: dive P4-167

waiting "The Christina's" waiting on deck before their Pisces dive. Anticipa-a-tion! They dove on the 1100m reef, the only dive of the series below the photic zone far enough to see bioluminescence displays. They encountered mostly lava flows rather than coral.
sawing rocks Sawing rocks on the aft deck. Further cutting and subsampling will be done on shore.
examining rock All rocks were cut open at sea, examined and photographed.
control room Watching dive video in the navigation room just aft of the bridge. At night, we used the little ROV to explore possible dive targets for the Pisces. A gale hit during the evening with dramatic lightning displays all around the ship. Yesterday we were shaken, today we were stirred.

October 19: dive P4-170

navigating One of the pilots navigating the submersible Pisces IV from the ship.
largest sample Sawing the largest sample collected on the cruise, collected at the 400m reef. The dives each day have been successful, though a little disappointing in that we have collected mostly carbonate detrital material.
rescue We towed this fishing vessel whose engine had quit into Hilo Harbor at about 4AM.

October 20: last dive, P4-171

watercolors Watercolors painted by the Pisces' chief pilot, Terry K., in the conference room on the ship.
mess deck View of the mess deck on the KOK.
bridge View of the bridge of the ship.

We sawed open and photographed the rocks from this last dive, packed all our rocks in buckets for shipping, and were ready to disembark just 1.5 hours after the Pisces was up on deck.

October 21: field trip

sign at Kilauea Our last day together, we went to Kilauea for a field trip. My favorite of Mark Twain's quotes, on this sign overlooking Kilauea's caldera: "The smell of sulfur was strong but not unpleasant to a sinner".
1790 ash Ash from the 1790 and 1924 eruptions exposed in the southwest rift-zone of Kilauea. In the center of view, a large bomb landed in the soft ash and caused the ash layers beneath to sag.
field trip Members of the science party exploring Kilauea Volcano.
tree mold Looking down into a tree mold. Lava surrounded the tree, which chilled the lava but then burned away, leaving this hole.
cell phone Kelsey D. making a call.
no parking

No parking!

This sign was inundated by lavas of the Pu'u O'o eruption.
lava at night We watched lava flow into the sea after dark.

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Questions? Comments? Please contact Jenny Paduan
Last updated: Mar. 02, 2012