JC010: Mud volcanoes and submarine canyons


Cruise diary

Day 14: Friday 15 June 2007
Position: 39º 29’ 855 N, 09º 55’ 752 W (Nazare canyon)
Weather: A very nice day; slight breeze and small waves

Virginia writes:

"Today has been dominated by ROV operations: Ursula, Sarah and Teresa have experiment on the seabed - a new phase for them. We also collected more push cores were collected.

Teresa experiments on the deck yesterday

This afternoon Teresa's experiments was placed on the seafloor. Isis is oppening the chambers to put sea curcumbers in each one.

Yesterday was full of piston coring, and I took some pictures to show how the cores are handled when they come back up from the seafloor:

Deplyment of the piston corer: the coring tubes are lifted horizontally over the soide of the ship...

...they are then turned to the vertical...

...and lowered down to the seabed, where they are pushed into the sediments

Once back on deck, the core is too long to be handled in one piece...

...so it it cut into smaller sections...

...as Veerle is doing here. The sediments are held inside a plastic tune (core liner) which slots inside the metal coring barrel.

One section successfully cut...another 8 to go...

The ends of each core section have to be capped off to stop the sediments inside drying out or falling out of the tube.

Doug giving Raquel and Helen some instructions

The work involved in the piston core collection was followed with high interest for everybody on board. I am very impressed with this work. It was a completely successful event which resulted in very good cooperation of technicians and scientists.

I believe that Doug and Raquel will produce very interesting new scientific knowledge, studying the sediments of the piston cores collected in the Nazaré Canyon. I would like to know the results of their studies. I will look for their publications in scientific journals..."

Helen writes:

"It’s not very often that I choose work over socialising on a Friday evening at 8pm, but the film some of the others have put on just isn’t my cup of tea! It’s been a long day, and I can’t wait to go to bed. Late this afternoon we spent some time at the punch bag hidden below the fo’c’sle deck (I only found out it was there today!), learning some Tai Kwon Do. I wasn’t expecting to be much good at it, as I’ve had knee problems in the past and am not particularly fit. There were 5 of us in all that turned up, Dave T (the ROV pilot), Sybille (a socio-economist who is a partner in the HERMES project and finding out more about the natural scientists and their work by joining in with this leg of the cruise), Raquel (PhD student studying geology – see her interview here), Colin (A geologist on the cruise who instructs at the university Tae Kwon Do club), and me. Colin was very patient and showed us some kicks and punches, and gave us some self-defence tips. Everyone was up for the challenge and we each took some shots at the punch bag. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my kicking is quite good, and that I could achieve the highest kicks out of those of us there (I am 6ft tall and have very long legs though…). My punching and balance were ok, but I need much more practice! Apparently there’s a chance that we can go again tomorrow…we’ll see what happens!

The ROV had some glitches during the night with power, and after being deployed once, had to be brought back up to the ship for some work. It started its dive at 2.18GMT (3.18am BST), and I came onto my watch at 4am. We spent some time starting experiments for scientists from the University of Aberdeen (and minced up a fish in the thrusters – oops!), before collecting organisms for Sarah’s experiment, and then collecting some sea cucumbers for Teresa.

We decorated some polystyrene cups which have been sent down to 3500m with the ROV today. I can’t wait to see how small they’ve become, and to take them into school to show everyone on my return to the UK!

I’ve had a few requests for more photos. For the last week or so, we haven’t been photographing as many new organisms as we were seeing in the first few days. The ROV work has been mostly deploying experiments and scanning the canyons using swath bathymetry to create 3D maps. I will add new pictures to the site as soon as any images become available.

I’ve been sent another batch of questions to answer that you’ve all sent through. I’ll do my best to get them answered by the end of tomorrow so that you can find out the answers to your burning questions, if you’ve got any questions, you can fill out a form on the Q&A page. More tomorrow!"


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