JC010: Mud volcanoes and submarine canyons


Cruise diary

Day 12: Wednesday 13 June 2007
Position: 39º 29’ 842 N, 09º 55’ 984 W - Nazare Canyon, 3500m water depth
Weather: Cloudy and breezy

Virginia writes:

"The internet connection has been very difficult since yesterday after lunch, hence the delays in submitting our diary entries!

The past couple of days have been very intense in terms of scientific work on board.

Between 12 pm and 6 am, CTD and SAPS (water filtration pumps to detrmine the concentration of suspending particles in the water column) experiment were carried out for Kostas' experiments (see the diary from 4 June). CTD analyses are mesurements of temperature, salinity, depth and turbidity. Remenber Kostas intends to analyse the concentrations and to determine what kind of lipids (fat) and pigment (chlorophyll) exists in the sea water column’s particles. Based on this data he will evaluate the importance of oceanic productivity and the organic matter quality that is being supplied to the organisms that live at various depths in the water column (planktonic animals) and also on the sea bed (benthic animals).

During the day, swath bathymetry and a video transect were also done. See a photo of Veerle (below), a reasercher of the NOCS who works with this kind of data. In the forthcoming days I will tell you about the importance of these data and show something about Veerle's work.

Elevator 1 (a cage that stores samples from the ROV) was recovered with nematodes, traps (Jeroen’s experiment) and also elevator 2 with Sarah and Teresa’s experiments. Silvia showed us some pictures of the meiofauna (animals) found in this area:



Veerle at work in the main lab




The most interesting thing that I did today was to interview Jeroen about his research - click here to read the interview.

Helen writes:

"I can’t believe it was almost a fortnight ago that I left the UK, the time has flown by! Life on the ship seems to be suiting me well, but I’m not sure if I could make a career of it! We’ve really felt the waves today, having had very good weather and very flat seas, today’s swells have seemed almost shocking, but I believe they’re barely considered moderate!

We found out today that the BBC and some Portuguese media are being brought out to the ship on Monday to see what we’re up to. It’s very exciting, but means extra work for people who are going to be interviewed – we want to be able to show off the best discoveries, work and images from the trip, so those people want to make sure they are as best prepared as they can be. When we arrive in Lisbon next Thursday there are plans for a group of VIP's to come out and visit. Tomorrow we are planning to make some very large posters to display the work that is being done. It means trawling through hundreds of photos to find the best images of all the different fish, geological features, starfish, sea urchins etc etc, and explaining what they are and their importance. I’ll tell you more on that tomorrow.

The ROV has had a busy time, carrying out more swath surveys (3D mapping of the sea floor), and trying to release some experiments that were sent down a few days ago. The experiments are designed so that they can be remotely released by sending a signal down from the ship. This means that we can get the ROV out of the water before releasing them, so that no cables can get tangled. The problem has been that the feet on the elevators are getting stuck in the mud, and it makes their behaviour very unpredictable, for example, as neither elevator was responding to the signal sent, the ROV was put into the water to go and release one. Only 100m down, and with no further action on our part, one of these elevators started to rise on its own, so the ROV was quickly brought back onto the ship whilst we waited for this empty lander to arrive. It takes about 2 hours for a piece of equipment on the sea floor to reach the ship.

The second elevator contained to experiments, one studying sea cucumbers, and the second studying the use of oxygen by larger sea animals (starfish, urchins etc), this had to be released using the ROV which is risky as the two could get entangled. Happily, all went well and the elevator arrived this evening.

Sorry there haven’t been many photos of late - I’ve had a very unsuccessful time of taking clear ones! Many seem to blur as the ship pitches and rolls! If there is anything that you would like to see pictures of that hasn’t appeared yet you can use the Q&A page to talk to me about it, and I’ll see what I can do!"

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