The EPR Chronicles VII

For background on the EPR Chronicles, see this post. The expedition was also recorded online at the Field Museum during this time (before science blogs!) and includes dispatches, videos and photos!

Tuesday 11/11/03, 3:50am

We are at 9°N latitude and the fauna here is significantly more abundant & diverse. The vents here are black smokers. The black smoke is actually a cloud of extremely hot mineral water that immediately precipitates out its minerals upon contact with the cold seawater. This results in a black “smokey” appearance, though it is not really smoke. Karen measured the water temperature today to be around 350-380°C which can easily melt parts of the sub if its gets too close. Breea & Cheryl dove today with Pat hickey as the driver. Cheryl Parker is Karen’s research technician. They used this interesting “elevator to the seafloor” thingy which is basically a platform with 4 bioboxes attached to it. It has weights attached on the bottom & high pressure rated floats at the top. This keeps it neutrally buoyant on the seafloor. They drop it in the ocean with a transponder to tell its location where it drops. Then Alvin gets dropped on top of it, hopefully finds it, fills up the boxes and cuts off the weights and the elevator floats up 4 km in about 1 hour and 15-45 min. later on the surface where they hopefully can find it in good weather, which we had today after 3 days of on & off rain.

As you can probably surmise many a thing can go wrong and they indeed have lost stuff before never to be found again. Anyways, after working on video all day & helping with the elevator, we did another plankton tow about midnight. It went a little deeper down but we did not get quite as many cool things as we has hoped for. We found an echinoid larva, a purpley iridescent copepod and other beautiful small stuff, a lot of it was stuff we saw the night before, but the salps were not very pronounced at all. Anyways, Meg, Stepháne, Todd and I played ping pong and laughed so hard we could barely stand. Peter joined us & we went to the pool. Now I am very tired & must get up in less than 6 hours so I go to bed now!