Monday was another catch-up and sample-processing day for the science group, while the Alvin team performed some maintenance on the sub’s variable ballast system. Then yesterday morning, pilot Phil Forte, chief scientist Stefan Sievert, and I (!) made our way to the seafloor in Alvin.
Our main goal for the dive was to move the Vent-SID microbial incubator into place at a warm-water vent and trigger the start of sampling, which we did. We also collected
some microbial colonizers that had been deployed on the first dive of the expedition and gathered a hefty batch of tube worms for the scientists on Atlantis. Squally weather threatened to cut our work short, but luckily it cleared up and we were able to get through everything on our to-do list.
Once we were back aboard, I got my comeuppance for posting all those ice-bucket photos of previous newbie divers here on the expedition blog. My thoughtful shipmates arranged an Alvin initiation ceremony that included some tools of my trade, plus the traditional buckets of iced seawater. I’ve never received a welcome that felt so warm (emotionally) and so cold (thermodynamically) at the same time. Thanks, everyone!
Today, pilot and Alvin expedition leader Bob Waters, microbiologist Kathleen Scott, and postdoctoral researcher Nuria Fernandez Gonzalez dove on the vents. They sent the Vent-SID back to the surface. This deployment was our last chance to see it in action, so we’re anxiously waiting to find out whether it finally worked as planned! Stay tuned.
Today’s dive is our last here on the main ridge of the East Pacific Rise. Tomorrow will bring more off-axis exploration as Scott White continues his search for new vents.