Pacific Warm Pool

  1. Farewell
    Blogs - like cruises - come to an end, and this will be the last entry. The scientists' cabins have been emptied, the decks cleared, and the samples shipped home. The science party has left the Revelle in Manila, and the techs and crew have prepped the vessel for the next journey to Taiwan and then on to Sri Lanka. Yair and I extend our thanks to each of the officers, crew and techs who collectively made this a very successful and rewarding cruise. ..... Before wrapping up I want also to acknowledge the behind-the-scenes help of James Gibson in making this blog possible. He's a grad student in the Dept. of Earth + Environmental Sciences at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. He generously donated his time and experience assembling the pieces that made this blog function. He and I had a lot of back-and-forths in the early days of the cruise when he silently patched things together to keep our text and pictures readable. Thank you James! ..... To provide a quick summary of what we did and where we did it, here's a map of our core locations and seismic grids. We landed 54 cores (piston, trigger, gravity, Kasten and multi-cores) totaling 225 m in length. We collected and processed (edit-stack-display) twenty-nine 48-channel MCS lines totaling 449 km. One from near the Papua New Guinea margin is shown below. We also gathered 2 plankton tows and 8 CTD measurements with water sampling to 1500 m depths. Continuous swath bathymetry and sub-bottom echo sounding was recorded for the entire cruise.
    For a final look at life aboard RR1313 here are a few of the pictures taken by members of our science party. Each was donated to a picture pool to provide all our followers a chance to see some of what makes up the daily routine of a research cruise like this. We hope you enjoy seeing them as much as we did living them. ..... Many wonder what the food is like at sea. All agree it's surprisingly good, though crispy salads become a longing memory about 3 weeks into any voyage. Pics 1-2 (look for numbers at lower left of each) show you at least where we ate. Pics 3-6 show various ways of relaxing. We had the special event of crossing the equator as pics 7+8 show. King Neptune made an appearance (pic 9) to initiate all Pollywogs into the realm of Shellbacks. None were exempted from this ritual, including CoChief Scientists (pic 10) who have (regrettably) spent their careers up to this point at high latitudes. A cleansing bath in equatorial water (pic 11) completed the initiation. Back to serious work, we took a core immediately after the crossing (pic 12) and the subsequent steps of core preparation and analysis from scanning to storage are shown in pics 13-21. The more delicate technique of 'multi-coring' is designed to capture the fragile seafloor-seawater interface (pic 22). Sampling water captured from various depths during CTD casts was another activity (pic 23). Waiting for cores to be lowered and raised back to the deck was done in good weather and poor (pics 24,25). Heavy weather (pic 26) meant no work got done, but that was a very rare event. Launching the MCS gear called for mild weather (pics 27, 28). While surveying, a watchful eye was kept out for any interference with marine mammal activity (pic 29). Fortunately for all we had only one intersection with marine mammals and it required only a 15-minute cessation of seismic acquisition. The end of the cruise brought us to the Philippine islands and the very active Mayan volcano (pic 30), wonderful sunsets (pic 31) and our arrival in Manila Harbor (pic 32). Everything was packed and cleaned and all we had to do was wait to clear customs (pic 33). The refrigerated van holding all of our cores was lifted to a truck, we said our good-byes, and left for the airport and home. ................................................................................. Farewell from the science party of R/V Roger Revelle cruise 1313 (pic 35). --- Greg Mountain
  2. Almost Done

    We've arrived at the Philippines. We spent most of the day coring
    below the above volcano (and its friends around the bay), which Jeremy
    was kind enough to photograph with my camera at dawn while I was
    asleep below. Yes, that's steam coming from the crater. As of this
    moment (11pm Philippines time) we have about 8 hours of science time
    left. By breakfast coring will be a thing of the past, and we will
    have 25 hours of transit time to Manila which will be spent packing
    and cleaning everything. If there's any time to spare, rest assured it
    will be spent playing ping pong.

    I think we're all ready to be done, especially considering the pace
    we've been working at the past couple of days, but this has been an
    amazing trip, and I'm sad it's over.
  3. The sea was angry that day my friends...
    like and old man in a deli returning soup.  --Angel


  4. Exploring

    So Greg did something pretty cool last night. We were just chilling
    out on station after midnight with the goal of deploying the seismic
    gear after breakfast. Chilling out on station is not a good use of
    ship time, and as we had already dropped a piston core and a
    hydrocast, and were in the process of taking not one but two plankton
    tows (one for the mixed layer at 25 m depth and one for the
    chlorophyll maximum zone at the thermocline, around 200 m. A plankton
    tow is exactly what it sounds like. We tow a net at a certain depth
    for an hour to catch plankton –it also had the added benefit of making
    our friendly Restech Keith smell like krill for the rest of the day).
    Greg decided the thing to do would be expand our multibeam seafloor
    survey from the grid we'd mapped that morning. The cool thing was that
    after deciding this, he walked into the main lab, where we were in the
    middle of a heated doubles ping pong match, and said "Hey budding
    young scientists, does anyone want to look at our bathymetric data,
    identify an area of interest, and design a survey plan?" To which
    Jeremy and I replied "yes." (Sam and Kelly, the other half of our ping
    pong foursome, were running the plankton tow.)
    So we sat down and looked at the day's survey data to see what might
    be interesting. Our waypoints and survey plan (and planning
    scribblings) are plotted in the top photograph. The basemap is
    satellite tomography (yeah, did you know they can measure seafloor
    topography via satellite? It still blows my mind) which can resolve
    good ocean-scale features, like ridges and trenches and abyssal plains
    and the like. The finer stuff can't be resolved from satellite (which
    is ok, because again: we're mapping the bottom of the ocean with
    satellites), and can only be done with shipboard multibeam sonar.
    These data are few and far between in the open ocean. Going back to
    our survey map at the top, the line of better resolution data going
    from southeast to northwest is a shiptrack from the only other survey
    ship to have passed by here. Anyway, Jeremy and I sat down to look at
    this, and the results from our survey this morning, which are not
    included on the map above (the yellow dots you can see are the
    waypoints from that survey). The morning's survey and 3.5MHz seismic
    showed interesting seafloor features. Particularly, instead of the
    gentle slope suggested by the satellites it has several 20 meter
    terraces right along where the contours turn from dark blue to
    slightly less dark blue. We couldn't survey during the plankton tow
    because the ship can only go 1 knot at that time. That was supposed to
    wrap up around 4am, which gave us 3.5 hours of survey time. And we had
    to be at a certain location at 7:30 to start the seismic. So we
    plotted a triangular course following contour lines of the ridge to
    the north where we might hope to find those same terraces. We did this
    old school, with a protractor and compass. We figured 10 knots over
    three and a half hours gave us 35 nautical miles, so we designed a 29
    nautical mile course, on the assumption that we may have to slow down
    or quit early if conditions dictated it.
    All these tasks completed, we wrote down way points in Lat/Long for
    the bridge, and I went to bed, because it was three in the morning and
    my shift had ended at midnight.
    Jeremy took the waypoints up to the bridge and hand-delivered them,
    which apparently is preferred, because there are sometimes
    miscommunications over the phone. And they did it. Which is really
    cool. We were the ones directing the ship.
    Taking directions to the bridge is also extremely surreal, as at night
    the bridge is completely black so the two officers driving the boat
    can see out into open expanse of the ocean. So when Jeremy got up to
    the bridge, he stood around the dark for a moment so his eyes could
    adjust, then was greeted by a dark figure (it was one of the mates,
    Jeff) standing next to an array of dimly lit computer/navigation
    screens. After Jeff took the waypoints and plugged them into the
    navigation computer (which literally took 10 seconds), the ship was
    good to go and was soon pointed happily northeast towards the first
    point Chris and Jeremy had selected.
    The survey results, which you can see in the second picture, did
    reveal some more of those 20 meter terrace features, but only on the
    east-ward facing slopes of the ridges. We're not sure why that is,
    although we might hypothesize that it's controlled by basement
    topography (basement being the bedrock of this ocean ridge). We could
    tell you for sure (probably) if we had time to run a proper seismic
    survey over these features, but ship time is limited and we're here to
    identify sites for ocean drilling to get sediment records of the last
    15 million years of climate variability, not study the geomorphology
    of the seafloor. But we explored a small area of the seafloor that was
    preciously unexplored, and that was a pretty cool thing to do.

    Posted by Chris (writing in the first person, except for right now)
    and Jeremy (writing in the 3rd person)
  5. Marine Mammal Observers observing the sunset

    And doing a fine job of it, too. You can also see Clint to the right
    and Matt the Res Tech down on the bow. You might also notice that the
    ocean is no longer the placid lake it was for most of the last week.
    The picture doesn't do it justice (does it ever?), but those are ~5'
    waves (I think). Not exactly the Southern Ocean, but noticeable after
    so many days of calm. They make ping pong more interesting, at least.

    We've been shooting a seismic survey all day, and those of us not
    actively involved in seismic data acquisition (i.e., everyone but Kim)
    have been busy splitting, describing, and sampling cores. It's quiet,
    lazy work in an air conditioned lab, away from the sun and heat and
    salt spray. In fact, until I went to watch the sunset I hadn't been
    outside all day.

    posted by Chris
  6. Rhizon Pore Water Sampling

    Interstitial water samples are a crucial component of marine
    scientific coring expeditions. Although it has long been understood
    that pore water affects a range of processes including: fluid flow,
    mineral diagenesis, microbial reactions, etc. scientists were unable
    to collect high resolution (thinly spaced) water profiles due to
    methodological issues. The traditional method of cutting small core
    sections and squeezing the water out (just as one would squeeze an
    aluminum can for recycling) ruined the sedimentary record and often
    forced scientists to choose between the water and the soil.

    On this cruise we are utilizing a better method for pore water
    recovery - Rhizons. Rhizons consist of a small hydrophilic polymer
    tube supported by a wire that is connected to a flexible hose which
    passes water to a collection chamber (syringe in this case). Prior to
    collect a small hole is drilled in the core liner and the microporous
    polymer tube is inserted into the sediment. The syringe is pulled open
    and the vacuum slowly pulls water out of the sediment. Generally, this
    process takes between 30 minutes and one hour.

    The samples are immediately placed inside a refrigerator awaiting
    analysis upon our return to the United States.

    Posted by Clint Miller
  7. Kasten Coring!
  8. R/V Revelle Equator Crossing
    Hear me, hear me

    On the 18th of September 2013 we crossed the Equator at 142 degrees and 30 minutes east longitude, reckoning from Greenwich. After battling large mud waves and numerous foraminifera with multi, gravity and piston corers we finally achieved our goals here by deploying the mighty Kasten corer and shooting the mud with air guns. In recognition of this major victory and the crossing of the equator we salute the Southern Hemisphere as we move to the new battlefields in the north with the traditional mud decoration.


    I hereby, King Neptune, also known to many as chief scientist, will now baptized all you Polywogs with equatorial Pacific surface water. From now on you will be known as Eq Pac Shellbacks and will contnue this old tradition when your turn comes to become chief scientists. ---King Neptune

  9. Our First Sunset in the Northern Hemisphere!
    Solid 8/10. The clouds lingering on the horizon obstructed the full potential of this sunset. ---Angel 


  10. Getting to Know the Cap'n
          When you're at sea on a research cruise, scientists only make up part of the population on a ship.  We're actually just visitors here - lots of space and time are shared with the crew, who call the ship their home.  So it's great to take some time to get to know the people you'll be living alongside for a few weeks.  The other morning I had the chance to talk with the captain, Wes Hill, the third mate, Matt Serio, and AB Pete Steiner up on the bridge a little bit about life at sea.  Below is a summary of what was said "on the record."  For the off the record transcript, you'll have to find the captain in Manila after the cruise ends!
     
          I got to know our Captain a bit first.  Wes has been a captain since 2000, but has been with Scripps for nearly 24 years, and he's known many of the crew for almost as long.  Before becoming captain, Wes was a mate.  He sails with all of the Scripps fleet but has been at the helm of the R/V Revelle for the past three years.  When I asked him if he had a favorite ship, the captain replied, "No comment."  A very PC answer!
          I asked Wes about his favorite and least favorite parts of the job.  He said interacting with the scientists was great (and I'm sure not just because he was talking to one at the time), and of course the travel, listing Taiwan as his favorite port, and Easter Island as one of his favorite places he's been.  The biggest drawback is all the time away from home.  To give you an idea of the kind of time the crew spends at sea, the Revelle has been cruising around the western Pacific since mid-July.  This leg of the cruise ends in Manila on October 3rd but the Revelle continues on to Taiwan from there.  The captain heads for home on October 9th, but he doesn't know his schedule after that and could be home as long as 3 months or called back out to sea pretty soon after getting back on dry land.  I asked Wes if he could have one thing named after him and he immediately replied, "A seamount!  Definitely a seamount.  And definitely not a reef.  You can write that part - definitely not a reef." 
    Matt and Wes at the helm of the R/V Revelle
          We chatted next about life at sea.  You always hope for smooth sailing, but sometimes the unexpected happens.  I asked the captain what the scariest thing was that had ever happened to him at sea.  "Blog interviews," the captain replied.  Seriously though, Wes said that when weather turns, that can be tough.  It's rare to unexpectedly run into really bad weather these days, thanks to technology, but occasionally storms can creep up on you.  Once the winds pick up to 60 knots or so, things can get a little hairy.  Scripps vessels have also been involved in some civilian rescues, including an abandoned sailboat and a sailboat that had run aground near Palou.  In the latter case, a family with two young kids was brought on board the R/V Melville for a few days until the ship reached port.  The captain assured me the anti-pirate water cannons had never been fired…except to test them…on over-curious scientists.  
          Speaking of over-curious scientists, I asked if there had ever been any really strange requests from scientists, and Pete chimed in with a story about one researcher who was adamant about exactly where he wanted to drop a buoy off a few hundred meters off to starboard, in spite of a very shallow and very obvious reef, and in spite of the captain trying to point out that a large research vessel can't just sail over a reef.  You can bet the captain won that argument.  Wes shared that he has sailed with and shook the hand of Bob Ballard (and hasn't washed it since), who is noted for his work in underwater archaeology, and with Roger Revelle's wife on the maiden voyage of the R/V Revelle
          Finally, with the hopes that maybe some future marine scientists would be reading this blog, I asked the captain if there were one thing you'd want scientists to know before they came onto a research vessel, what would it be? 
           The unanimous answer?  "How to make good pot of coffee."

    by Kelly Gibson