Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Author Archive for Sam Mitchell

A ‘Day’ in the life of a Nocturnal Sea Scientist

Even now, over halfway through the expedition, some of us are still trying to come to grips with the abnormality of our shift times and sleeping schedules. Myself, I’ve found that breakfast becomes a midnight snack, exercise IS possible at 4am and that ping-pong makes for a good science break!

This being my first cruise, adjusting to this pattern is taking some getting used to, but it’s an incredible experience all the same. So as part of the ‘midnight crew’, I thought I’d give a rundown of how a day usually pans out for me at sea:

WARNING: May contain science and copious amounts of food. Read More →

Preparing the Elevator for a Dip

Once the ROV Jason begins collecting samples on the seafloor, we need a way to retrieve these samples as frequently as possible while Jason remains working underwater. This is where the elevator comes in.

IMG_2983A small team worked through sunrise, breakfast, and lunch today bolting down boxes and preparing the elevator for its first test dive. We recorded their operation to keep an eye on their progress (see below).

The elevator is a four-by-four-foot platform with collecting boxes and crates bolted to it, a weight mechanism that enables the elevator to sink, a tracking beacon to determine its location, and an incompressible, buoyant top of bubble-rich, low-density glass to bring it back to the surface.

After our team assembled the boxes, crates and respective lids to the platform, we fitted the elevator with a sensor to record water properties (temperature, turbidity), hoisted it over the side of the ship, and released it to sink down into the center of the caldera. The elevator will descend to 1600 meters beneath the surface before returning back to the ship.

Once we retrieve the elevator, we can begin with the next phase of our operations: deployment of Sentry and Jason.

Constructing the Elevator

Construction (above) and retrieval (below) of a deep-sea elevator on
board R/V Roger Revelle. Time lapse by Kristin Fauria, UC Berkeley

Retrieving the Elevator

Time lapse by Kristin Fauria, UC Berkeley