CD 157: Investigating the submarine canyons offshore Portugal


Daily diary

Friday 4th June 2004

Weather: Someone's nicked the lead from the monitor that I use to check the weather. Out of the window it looks cloudy. Sitting on deck it is quite warm with a gentle breeze. Could be worse.

Ian writes...

Main achievement

Today has been hectic. The previous watch had had a busy night and brought in so many samples that they couldn’t process them all, so the A Team went into action!

I was employed helping Steve and Reece set up the piston corer for another sample of 12m  length of the sea bed [check out the series of photos]. Later in the day I also helped the other technician watch – Jez, Steve and Emma set up another core and bring in the previous one.

Today we gathered core samples as if mud was being rationed! I’m surprised that all the sea didn’t drain away!



I’d like to say that the radio interview (Win FM) was a contender. Having dutifully prepared answers to anticipated questions it was a huge disappointment not to be able to hear anything apart from about three very faint words. I made up answers to imaginary questions and spoke down the phone with little confidence that anyone could hear me. Try it for ten minutes and you realise how silly it feels.

The team go through their safety practice

The real highspot was the safety practice. The emergency signal sounded and crew and the science team rapidly mustered at the rear of the ship. Here we were treated to several instructions on fire drill, breathing apparatus and donning survival suites. This is taken very seriously and repeated each week.
Read all about safety on board here.


I had breakfast with Rhys. Rhys eats healthily, very healthily. In fact, his philosophy is: the more healthy food you eat, the healthier you will be. Rhys must be very healthy as his breakfast plate had to be winched over to his table. The only food he won’t eat is Welsh lamb and tomato sauce. He doesn’t like eating animals that were raised in ‘The Land of My Fathers’ and tomato sauce is bad for you. My breakfast was lamb and tomato sauce because that’s all that was left.

A team can achieve more than the sum of the actions of its individuals. I looked round the lab this morning during a ten minute ‘coffee break’. Phil and Sara were looking at models of avalanches down canyons on the computer, Jez and Belinda were recording positions, winch tensions and other data, Russell was describing core samples, James and Duncan were fiddling with their prototype electronic gizmo and I was writing a report. Dan was playing Patience on his laptop – he’s only young!

After that, back to sampling – cut, seal, label, clean, section, describe, package and store.

We’ve got it off to a tee. An expert in a week...Just like on the TV.

Elena writes...

It was going to happen! For the last week I’ve been chasing people around the ship with my notepad and camera and it was time for them to get me back!!

Today we had a fire drill and surprise, surprise the “volunteer” to dress up in the fire gear was me! Your students will find it very interested they said – I’m sure they will, so go on have a laugh at Ian and I all geared up! Read all about safety on the ship here

Today we’ve had a very busy day; we’ve reached an area of the canyon where the sample stations (places where we core) are very close together. On top of this, things don’t always run smoothly; equipment breaks and it has to be repaired there and then so the coring process can carry on. This is Rhys earlier on repairing some of the coring equipment.

I told you yesterday about the unexpected arrival of the pigeon, well, to find out how he’s doing read my “Update on Pete the Pigeon”.

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October 2003
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