JC010: Mud volcanoes and submarine canyons


Cruise diary

Day 2: Sunday 3 June 2007
Position: On passage from Cadiz to the first sample site; bearing 252º, 11 knots
Weather: Moderate to good visibility; threat of north-easterly gale

Virginia writes:

"The RRS James Cook left Cadiz port at 8 am. It is a very big ship, and since coming aboard yesterday I have spent much of my time lost and looking for my room! However, it is a very comfortable ship and today I am starting to feel much more at home.

Today we had several meetings:

At our first meeting the lead scientist of the cruise (Professor Doug Masson) explained the general plan of work for the next few days, at the Portuguese Submarine Canyons. Professor Paul Tyler then showed us several video clips of the animal species they saw with the ROV on the last leg of the cruise, living in the mud volcanoes area, from the South Iberian Margin. Density and diversity of animals is high at the mud volcanoes area, including polychaetes, tube worms and bivalves.

We were then given a tour of the ROV van, and the ROV ISIS and the potential of this impressive and versatile equipment was explained. We were also given some advice about the personal protection we should use when we are working on the deck.

I am part of the team that will work with the sediment cores, and we had a meeting to agree the organisation of the teams to collect and analyse the cores when they come aboard. Professor Andy Gooday is in charge of the sediment cores, and with him we agreed the future locations for the collection of the cores

The plan of work for the ROV was established for tomorrow. Tomorrow morning at about 10 am the ROV will be deployed and will collect sediment samples (for biological and geological studies), take video and photo records in the Setubal Canyon at about 650 m water depth.

In the afternoon a safety drill was carried out, so that we could experience a simulation of a fire on board the ship and possible evacuation. Everybody needs to know exactly what must be done if an evacuation is ordered.

Scientists spent the rest if the day organising their specific spaces in the several laboratories for the research work that will begin tomorrow. Andy Gooday and I also organised the specific space for the benthic foraminifera sudies in the main lab, and Andy explained to me the methodology of work that I shall assist him with.

I am very excited about the science that will start tomorrow!"

Doug leads discussions on the cruise science strategy

Doug, Sarah and Jeroen

Sarah, Jeroen, Sybille, Teresa and Veerle

Paul contemplates another 3 weeks at sea...

...whilst Sarah prepares the equipment for seabed experiments

Helen writes:

"It's about 9am here, we’ve already been up and about for a couple of hours, and because we sleep and work in the same place, that means we’ve been at work for a couple of hours too. This morning that hasn’t meant much, our first breakfast onboard ship was excellent, and then we headed up to the fo’c’sle deck to watch the view as we left Cadiz.

We’ve had a scientists meeting this morning as well, discussing the outline plans of the cruise, where we’re going, when we’ll be there. Everyone introduced themselves and their work – we don’t know anyone and many of the scientists don’t know each other either, so it’s really important that we’re all introduced as we’re going to be working very closely over the next few weeks.

We also had to decide who was going to be using each lab, and how much space everyone requires to carry out their research – there are several science labs, and each contains specialised equipment, so it’s important that each of the scientists is based in the right area. Watch rotas are beginning to be organised, it looks like we will be working shifts like the rest of the crew, so this could mean some very late nights or very early mornings; we will wait and see!

At the end of the meeting, we had the opportunity to watch video clips from the last leg of the cruise, it was AMAZING. We saw sea cucumbers, scabbard fish, squid, corals, mussels and an octopus. The video footage would have lasted hours in total, but we just watched the highlights. We were told the importance of recording what time we see things on the ROV cameras, otherwise the images will be lost as it could take days to scan back through all the footage.

This afternoon there was a fire drill and practise muster; we were reminded how to put on our immersion suits and shown the inside of the lifeboats.

The sea is a little rougher this afternoon, but strangely I’m feeling less wobbly than this morning!

We should arrive at the site (Setubal canyon) at about 7am tomorrow morning, work will start soon after, so this evening, we will find out about whose experiments will be carried out first – we only have a couple of days at this first site, so there is much organisation to be done to ensure that everything runs smoothly...."

An introduction to ROV Isis

Virginia (left) with new friends Silvia and Ursula

Andy, Silvia and Teresa at the safety briefing

A demonstration of how to put on an immersion suit

Sarah and Helen raid the safety equipment locker!

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