Today, pilot Bruce Strickrott, geophysicist Scott White, and undergraduate student Avery Lee dove in Alvin to do some off-axis exploration—that is, not directly on the mid-ocean ridge where the vents we’ve been studying so far are located. Seismic data show that there is some “melt,” or magma, off the ridge. If so, there may be undiscovered hydrothermal vent sites nearby.
None were found today. But Scott will continue his exploration on another dive a few days from now. Meanwhile, newbie diver Avery returned aboard for his ice-bucket initiation ceremony.
Yesterday, pilot Bob Waters, pilot-in-training Chris Lathan, and research associate Sean Sylva dove to the vents. They located the Large Volume Pump, which had been deployed the day before. True to its name, the pump filters large volumes of vent fluid to sample microbes. The divers sent the pump back to the surface. They also recovered a bacterial colonizer and collected vent fluids from two sites.
The pump was sent down to the bottom again tonight. Tomorrow’s Alvin divers will find it and start the next round of microbe sampling.
The Vent-SID group has continued their testing. They’ve done some successful short-term incubations near the surface and are getting ready for the instrument’s final deployment this week.