JC010: Mud volcanoes and submarine canyons


Cruise diary

Day 7: Friday 8 June 2007
Position: 39º 34’ 13801 N, 10º 18’ 22630 W
Weather: Breezy with occasional rain

Virginia writes:

"Today I have been working on a grant application using the internet connection in the ship's Conference Room, which is much faster than in my cabin or in the labs. The Conference Room is a nice space with several PCs that can be used by the scientists and crew. The Conference Room is located in the fourth deck. As I was going down the stairs I met Jackie, a very nice lady, that help us to keep the R.R.S. James Cook organised and cleaned.

The conference room


On board the ship we have a researcher, Teresa Amaro, who is interested in the study of Holothurians (sea cucumbers). I met Teresa for the first time in Aveiro last year. She often works in Southampton and when is in Aveiro she has a lot of work to do in the Biology Departement, of Aveiro University, whereas I am also very busy working usualy in the Geosciences Department. So we had not been yet the oportunity of knowing each other very well. Today I spoke with her trying to understand better her work, which is very interesting. You can read all about her work here. Teresa is running an experiment using deep-sea Holothurians from the Nazare Canyon. To develop her experiment Teresa relies on the ROV to put her experiment on the sea floor and to recover it again some days later. Teresa is currently preparing his experiment which will be deployed in a few days. You can follow the progress of the experiment in our diaries.

Last night, Ursula's experiment was placed on the seabed by the ROV. Follow the blog if you want to know some news about Ursula´s work in the incoming days. Ursula had some free time today as she already has everything prepared for the next days. I found her in the R.R.S. James Cooks library when I was looking for a book to read. The ship's library has a diverse collection of books. At the beginning I was undecided whether to choose a book about Antarctic living beings (Professional influence) or Antarctic Expeditions. I decided to read about Antartcia first.

The library on board the ship

Helen writes:

"The day started in the ROV van. The team of pilots & supporting ROV crew were manoeuvring some scientific equipment into position. Their work is so skilful!  The claw and arm combinations allow them such dexterity, but the patience required to perform some of these tasks is huge; the constant rearranging of joints and moving cameras so that all the right angles can be seen, and the tasks are carried out with such precision. What I always find so hard to believe is the distance away from us that Isis is; she was sitting, today, approx 4500 metres below us, 4km away and yet was being controlled as if she were in the next room. An awesome sight, with some incredible engineering!

The ROV then started to carry out swath bathymetry; this is a process that allows the scientists to create a detailed image of the sea floor, with structures such as cliffs and dunes (also called mega ripples). This process is recorded by a computer, so does not require 3 of us to sit and watch. I took this opportunity to go up to the bridge to see the sunrise, and interview the Chief Officer while I was there (available tomorrow when I have a photograph!). Pete was very friendly and answered all of my many questions. Steve, the CPO was on lookout in the bridge too, so we had a good chat whilst watching the early morning ocean. It looked stunning, words and pictures just can’t describe the tranquillity, size and power of the seas. The bridge is the only place on the ship where you can look out and see the sea all around you. I think it’s my favourite place to be on here, I could spend hours just staring out and admiring the views.

This afternoon I spent some time editing photos and interviews (see the interview that Virginia carried out with the Principal Scientist here) and typing up my interview with Pete, the Chief Officer, before heading back to the ROV van for this afternoon’s shift. Again, some great work from the ROV team (a different watch from this morning’s crew), collecting core samples in sand that just wouldn’t stick! It seemed as though each time a core was taken from the sea bed, the sand just poured right out again, several had to be taken twice and one a third time to get suitable samples of the sediment for analysis by the scientists. We also had an encounter with a couple of fish, the first getting caught in the thrusters (messy!), and the second attacking one of the cores! We got some great footage which I’ll try and get hold of for you all to see. I also managed to coordinate my day to get my laundry done too, I didn’t realise I had so many clothes that weren’t compatible with a tumble drier – my cabin looks like Widow Twanky’s parlour!

Dinner this evening was Thai. We had an amazing red Thai beef curry, I think my favourite dish so far! There were also some chilli and soy king prawns still in their shells; absolutely delicious, but I made such a mess trying to shell them! Luckily I wasn’t the only one to have sticky fingers and need a bib; we were all making such a state of ourselves!

Tonight, the megacore is going down, it’s due to return at about 3am, so I hope that tomorrow I’ll have some video footage and photographs to show, and it looks like I’ll be getting up even earlier to see that happening!

‘Til tomorrow..."

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