Monday, May 16
After 36 hours of watching flying fish, dolphins, oil rigs, and bioluminescence, we all were a little antsy to get to work last night. After catching the lunar eclipse and stargazing, we prepared to arrive at around 2:00 AM. Preparations included rigging the multi-core, and inserting a plastic sleeve into the gravity core to enable the removal of the core without destroying the metal gravity core. Stated in the name, the multi-core enables us to take up to 8 sediment samples at one time. These samples are shorter, with a maximum length of around 60cm. The gravity core is essentially a 3 meter long dart that is sent into the ground at a high speed. Both pieces of equipment use up to 700 pounds of lead weight to apply pressure into the sediments. This made maneuvering them on deck somewhat difficult, as any major movement required a crane, enormous effort, and safety precautions. The first piece of equipment that we sent over the back of the boat was the multi-core. Guided by two lines and lowered by a crane that holds equipment over the back of the boat, we sent the multi-core to a depth of 555m. When the multi-core arrived back to the surface, we found that 5/8 tubes collected a core. Two of the tubes were entirely missing, while one of them failed to retain the sediments. This is not super unusual, and we brought extra supplies for this very reason. After removing the cores that we collected from the inside of the multi-core, we placed them on a stand to measure, and then to transfer into a new tube to store. This transfer proved quite difficult, as the sediments had the habit of trying to escape out of the bottom of the tube, despite our best efforts to hold them. Fortunately, no samples were lost, and the process went relatively smoothly, despite the incoming rainstorm. This did not stop our work, as unless lightning is near, or other dangerous conditions occur, we are still able to be on deck. Luckily, however, this rain did not persist.
The gravity core was the next thing to plunge into the water, also going down 555m. Although it is only a 3 meter long dart, it actually proved quite difficult to handle on deck, with the gradually building sea state, and the heavy weights that were suspended by the crane. Despite these difficulties, we were able to get the gravity core into the water without any major hiccups. After retrieving the gravity core from the seafloor, we removed the plastic lining, and sealed the 1.7m long core that we recovered. As we began to tie things down in preparation for our next site, a storm began to bear down on us. Torrential rain, heavy wind, and lightning made being on the deck no longer safe, so we quickly worked to finish our tasks and head inside. Exhausted, wet, and cold, we dried off and sat down, and waited for breakfast, which was to be served in a little over an hour. Although I am quite exhausted, there are so many interesting things happening on this boat, from the coring, sediment traps, and interactions with crew and scientists. Being able to be out here on the water and surrounded by knowledgeable scientists is a very cool and unique experience, and is teaching us all immense amounts. Unfortunately, I was so busy that I was unable to take any good photos last night. Now, my shift has ended, and I plan to sleep until dinner, and then sleep some more.
Water filtration for radioisotopes on a calm evening.
Out to watch the lunar eclipse.
Retrieving the sediment trap.