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  • gwynethnotpaltrow 5:44 pm on June 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    Coming…and going 

    I survived the weather in Texas, and have returned to ASU just long enough to unpack and restock supplies before going to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. My samples made it back safely, but most measurements will have to wait until after my trip to Tennessee.

    Lab Technician Trevor Martin demonstrates the use of the liquid nitrogen ball mill.

    Lab Technician Trevor Martin demonstrates the use of the liquid nitrogen ball mill.

    Tiffany Saul, a graduate student at UTK, will be coming here to ASU this fall to run some isotope analyses on the samples, as well as some of her thesis samples. She’s just finish going to IsoCamp through the University of Utah, so she’ll have a good opportunity to apply what she’s just learned about stable isotopes in ecology to our studies of the Body Farm in Tennessee. Utah has added a second course, SPATIAL, to cover the rapidly emerging topic of “isoscapes”, or isotopic landscapes.

    Oxygen and hydrogen isoscapes in plants, from Jason West’s group at Texas A&M.

    The concept that isotope ratios vary in systematic and predictable ways with geography is at the heart of the idea of figuring out where people were born or have moved. Our bodies are built when we eat food (carbon, nitrogen, strontium, even lead!), and drink water (oxygen and hydrogen). This leaves everyone with a measurable chemical and isotopic signature of where you live. This concept has been used for several decades in ecology and anthropology, to help understand animal migrations and ancient populations. It’s been championed in forensics and nutrition by a handful of researchers for more than a decade, but it has taken a while to become widespread. It employs concepts from geology (isotopic fractionation and measurements, large scale climate patterns), biology (metabolism), chemistry, and culture (food choices, migrations), so it requires researchers to cross boundaries between traditional scientific disciplines. It’s a very powerful tool that is finding wider application, and I’m excited to be a part of this emerging discipline.

     

     
  • gwynethnotpaltrow 11:09 am on June 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Tropical Storm Bill 

    Well, I was concerned about not getting enough precipitation to fill up my samplers, but my fears have proven to be unfounded! We’ve been drenched quite a bit while I’m here, but I can’t celebrate too much because 12 people died, and 2 children are still missing in Memorial Day flooding. Tropical Storm Bill has moved into our area, and we’re under a flash flood watch, and schools are closing. Originally, I had been slated to return tomorrow, but I will extend my trip for a couple of extra days so I don’t get stuck at the airport.

    Threatening skies at FARF (Forensic Anthropology Research Facility) at Texas State.

    Threatening skies at FARF (Forensic Anthropology Research Facility) at Texas State.

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    Besides, everyone here has been so welcoming! One of the wonderful things about travelling is getting exposed to new techniques and ideas, and explaining your research to others. I had a great conversation this morning with Forensic Odontologist Dr. James Fancer, DDS, PhD, and got some great advice about tooth extraction techniques. I also got to see the newest results from their 3D printer.

    3D printed skulls can be used for teaching or research.

    3D printed skulls can be used for teaching or research.

     
  • gwynethnotpaltrow 7:09 pm on June 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , #BorderCrossers, #OperationID,   

    Operation ID 

    Despite being Saturday, grad students were busy at the facility today, so I was able to spend much of the day cleaning more hair samples. I need to remove all the soil, vegetation and “other” materials so that I will be able to measure the elements and isotope composition of just the hair. It’s tedious work, but I’m actually quite happy, because I’m going to be able to analyze more samples than I initially thought. Later on, the hair will also undergo chemical cleaning. I’ll save part to examine under the microscope to see if the physical structure has changed, but most of it will be ground up in a ball mill cooled by liquid nitrogen. We need to keep the hair cold when grinding so that it will be brittle and can be ground very fine.

    The students here at Texas State are particularly busy this weekend because next week students from the University of Indianapolis will be here. The Indianapolis students will learn how to write up the forensic reports for the border crossers in Operation ID. In 2011-2013, Brooks County, Texas had a surge of 296 migrants who died trying to cross the US-Mexico border. Overwhelmed, and with no funds to cover investigation or burial, the migrants were buried in a mass grave with very little attempt to identify them. As Dr. Spradley, PI of the project, points out, that’s equivalent to a Boeing 737 crashing. Mostly staffed by volunteers, Texas State and the University of Indianapolis have exhumed many of these migrants and are trying to identify them through a combination of physical traits inferred from forensic anthropology and personal effects.

    Personal effects of one of the migrants.

    Personal effects of one of the migrants.

    Although there are larger mass graves in other parts of the world, I hadn’t thought there would be mass graves in the US in 2013! They suspect that many of the migrants are from Guatemala, while many of the migrants who cross the Arizona border are from Mexico. This signal of different geographic origins should show up very clearly in the stable isotope signatures, and I would love to be able to assist this group in the future so that the families of the missing have closure.

     
  • gwynethnotpaltrow 7:44 pm on June 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    Texas State San Marcos Forensic Anthropology Research Facility (FARF, aka “Body Farm”) 

    I’ve had a busy several days here. Dr. Daniel Wescott, director of the facility, and Dr. Deborah Cunningham have been very welcoming and they have some really nice facilities.

    The weather’s been threatening rain, so I set up my precipitation samplers with the assistance of Texas State grad student Brittany McClain. We also collected several soil cores in the sticky Texas clay. We’re collecting rainwater and soil to see what elements and isotopes might be exchanging with the different tissues I’m studying. I want to understand how well the isotopic signatures before death are preserved, so I need context about the soil and water.

    The students here at Texas State collect samples of DNA, hair and fingernails from donors when they arrive. Yesterday, I collected a number of hair samples from bodies that have been outside for various periods of time, from a few days to six months. I’ll be able to compare hair when they first arrived to now, to see how the chemical signatures evolve.

    If you’re interested in reading about a real-life example where this type of analysis provided crucial help to identify a victim, you can read more about it here. The case mentioned in that link was particularly interesting because isotopic changes along the length of the hair suggested frequent moves between regions. I’m hoping to provide some of the basic research to determine if these isotopic signatures are robust.

    A quick note – there will be no graphic pictures on this blog. The donors and their families have done an incredible service to society by allowing us to study them, and everyone I’ve met involved with this type of research is concerned with protecting donors’ privacy and respecting them for their gift to research and science. People can pre-register for full-body donation at FARF.

    Texas State grad student Brittany McClain demonstrates the use of a soil probe. She's standing between two plots. The one in front of her is a control plot, while the one behind her had a body buried in it last summer. Note the difference in vegetation.

    Texas State grad student Brittany McClain demonstrates the use of a soil probe. She’s standing between two burial plots. The one in front of her is a control plot (no body), while the one behind her had a body buried in it last summer. Note the difference in vegetation.

     
  • gwynethnotpaltrow 12:15 am on June 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    Being in the field can be a whirlwind of activity, but what tends to get glossed over is all the preparation and work that goes into a project before it ever gets to the field. Fieldwork begins months before a researcher leaves the lab, even if you don’t count coming up with the idea, building collaborations with other researchers, and grant submission. I’m preparing for some really exciting research on the isotopic taphonomy of human remains, and I’m in the last phase of getting ready to go in the field.

    Isotopes can be very powerful in helping to determine information about where someone was born, where they’ve travelled and what kind of diet they ate. In cases where a body is found with no identification, this can be very helpful in providing investigative leads to identify them – particularly if they don’t have any matching DNA in CODIS. This kind of research has been used for decades in anthropology to understand migration of ancient populations, but only recently have these tools started to be used in the context of modern forensics.

    Isotopes have been used in selected case studies, but there hasn’t been systematic study to see how well these signatures are preserved after death as a body decomposes in the context of modern forensics. The Department of Justice has funded us to look at this issue. We’ll be analyzing hair, tooth enamel and bone of individuals who have donated their bodies to science at two “Body Farms” – the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Texas State, San Marcos. These two sites have really different climates, so we should be able to look at the role of precipitation and humidity on decay. San Marcos is similar in climate to a lot of the border to Mexico, and so we hope to be able to use the results of this research to help families find closure if family members don’t make it through the desert while attempting to come across to the US.

    In order to understand the context, we’re also collecting rainwater, groundwater and soil samples. This will let us look at the endmembers that may be contributing chemical signatures to the bodies and help us understand what the controlling factors are. We’ll be looking at oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, strontium and lead isotopes, as well as elemental composition. Collecting hair, bone, tooth enamel, groundwater, precipitation and soil cores for all these different types of analyses is challenging because each type of analysis has its own consideration in sample collection and storage, and each sample type has multiple protocols for collection.

    Testing the deployment of the precipitation collector.

    Testing the deployment of the precipitation collector.

     
  • vgamezmo 5:19 pm on August 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Week 2/4, 3/4 & 4/4 “LAST US-Mexico Border Water and Environmental Sustainability (UMB-WEST) Summer Campaign” 

    Hello Everyone!!!

    We finally got back to Tempe this past Saturday! We unloaded the equipment and went home. I’m sure everyone was ready to sleep at least 12 hours. 

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    Agua de Hermosillo Presentation

    We started week 2 with meeting professors and students from different universities of Mexico. We attended many talks with government officials from Sonora, Mexico. As you can see on the left we met with Agua de Hermosillo, which they administer the public water of Hermosillo, Sonora. We also were invited to visit the vineyard of Grupo Alta, and we learned so much about the grape agriculture. More specifically, we learned that just by looking at a leaf we can identify which nutrients the plant is needing, such as potassium, magnesium, and others. Down below you can see the group picture with the Grupo Alta workers.

    vineyard

    Grupo Alta Vineyard

    During week 2 we also visited the Independencia aqueduct reservoir, el Novillo dam, the Distrito de Riego del Valle del Yaqui, and we had several talks addresing Sonoran water issues. Something very unique we were able to do was to visit the manglar de la Huivulai via boats. You can see a group picture of everyone super happy down below.

    manglar

    Manglar Site

     

    Week 3 consisted of field work in Rayon, Sonora. The 14 experiments are as follows:

    1. Rayon tower weir construction
    2. Topographic survey
    3. Isotopic partitioning of evapotranspiration at an agroecosystem
    4. Stomatal conductance of plants
    5. Plant water potential
    6. Daily soil moisture/ temperature sampling
    7. Set-up mobile eddy covariance
    8. Balloon and quadcopter imagery
    9. Field spectrometer sampling
    10. Sap flow measurements
    11. Throughfall, stemflow, and interception loss in oak forest
    12. Geophysical survey
    13. Community water use survey at San Miguel River
    14. Removal of hydrometereological stations in San Miguel basin

    At times we ran into difficulties with equipment not properly working, but we all worked as a team and got through the day. Below you can see pictures of several members working in different experiments.

     

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    Weir construction

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    Resistivity machine

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    Mobile tower in agricultural site

     

    As of Week 4, the ASU members are in charge of putting away all of the field equipment and putting together a presentation that will be shown to the public sometime during the week of August 25th-29th. Please feel free to come and look-out for some of the flyers we will be posting around campus!

     

    This year was unforgettable and we learned so much about hydrology… ONE of a kind experience.

     -Vivianna G.M.-

    2014 UMB-WEST participant

    hydrology

     
  • cayoung5 9:10 pm on July 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Diving to an Underwater Volcano – NSF Cruise AT26-17A, Amanda’s second log 

    It has been a while since my last post and since Cody had mentioned my feeling ill. I had a bad day, three days into the trip, and suffered from a fever and vomiting. Fortunately, I recovered the day after and have stayed healthy throughout the trip. I’m chalking it up to some strange reaction I had to motion sickness. Since then we have had rougher days and smoother days, but I’ve been well all the same. Actually, I’ve been better than well. I mean, I’m in out in the middle of the ocean, far from land, and no matter what direction I look in, I see blue water as far as the curve of the horizon. I’m literally floating above an entire world, full of mystery and life. That in itself seems wild and amazing, but truthfully, I’m more distracted by this incredible culture that surrounds me. I’ve been plucked from a stationary existence and dropped off in a fast-paced environment where being useful goes hand in hand with being experienced. Upon my arrival, I had absolutely zero experience with nut drivers, hose clamps, electrical tape, pear rings, shackles, and bowline knots, and even less with the incredible hardware and software of the instruments I have been strapping down and sending over the side of the ship into the cold depths below. I’ve used my hands for the first time in years, to actually build and bind and collect and disassemble. In the beginning, I didn’t know the names of the tools, or how to use them, but my determination to be useful combined with the opportunity to help has taught me a great deal in the past two weeks.

    Tim's tripod and camera ready to be sent down.

    Tim’s tripod and camera ready to be sent down.

    The mix of sailors and scientists makes for thorough entertainment. I’m consumed in countless stories from past decades and former jobs. When I really think of what it must be like to be a deck hand, or the Chief Scientist, or an engineer for the Alvin submersible, it’s like dreaming of an exotic life that I will never have as my own. Every detail, every memory in their lives, is unique and beautiful, yet foreign to me. I envy each of these people for their experiences, but more than that, I admire them. They have so much knowledge to share and I could easily listen for a lifetime.

    A few nights ago I was given an orientation and tour of the Alvin Submersible by Jefferson, an engineer, diver, and pilot in training. We walked around the exterior of the large submersible and he explained the purposes of the instrumentation and hardware. One of the most significant features of the sub is its ability to add or subtract weight so that it can become neutral in water. Large slabs of syntactic foam make up the bodice of Alvin, along with tanks that can be filled with air as needed. The syntactic foam is made of microscopic glass spheres making it positively buoyant in water. Toward the front of the sub is a basket which holds any equipment that will be used to conduct science experiments during the dive. For example, metal cylinders were used on a few of the dives to hold samples of water. On either side of the basket are Alvin’s arms. One fairly new and dexterous, with a miniature version inside for pilot control, and the other much older and better at heavy lifting. Two metal spheres are attached to the sub behind the basket. Mercury is stored in these spheres and can be pumped around the body of the submarine to adjust tilt. The mercury exists as a liquid even in the cold depths of the ocean, and since it’s very heavy, it’s an optimal substance for weight adjustments. There are a total of five portholes, three on Alvin’s face with 17” diameters and two on either side with 12” diameters. Surrounding the crown of Alvin is an array of lights and cameras. Two spherical cameras sit on either side with 360 degree views.

    Recovering Alvin after a dive

    Recovering Alvin after a dive.

    After the walk-around, it was time to go inside. We went up to the second level of the garage and walked on top of the sub to get to the hatch. We took our shoes off and climbed down a ladder into the hole. The room was small and dark, lit by dim red LEDs among numerous controls and switches on all walls of the bowl. The pilot sits on a small stool in the middle and on either side of him are slanted floor spaces for two passengers, one port and one starboard. Directly behind the pilot is a stack of oxygen tanks, three of which are responsible for filling the sub during a normal dive. The rest of the stack is there in case of emergency or delayed recovery. Carbon dioxide scrubbers are neatly tucked on either side, along with EBAs (emergency breathing apparatus), just in case. Both passengers have their own display of video feed from the external cameras on their side of the sub. Along with each display is a hand held controller that allows the passenger to switch between multiple camera views. For instance, the starboard passenger can change the direction of a specific starboard camera (say, camera #1), hit record, then switch channels to a different starboard camera (camera #2) and do the same.

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    Cody inside the Alvin Submersible during his orientation. 

    Jefferson took his time going over the specifics, things every passenger must know before they dive, in case the pilot needs assistance or suddenly becomes incapacitated. After exiting the sub and undergoing a full orientation, the potential passenger (me!) must sign a form to be eligible for a dive. If you can’t tell already, I was more than eager to sign the form, just in case there was some small sliver of a chance that I may be able to dive. I wasn’t exactly high up on the list, but I was glad to have at least gotten my name on the list! And who knows, maybe I will meet the R/V Atlantis and Alvin again, in the near future, and get a chance to travel to the seafloor. After watching Aliens of the Deep, I’m beginning to think that I could shift my career to test instrumentation in our oceans in preparation for a mission to explore Europa’s oceans. Exploring the unknown, whether on our planet or another, is such a tantalizing notion. I feel a deep desire, an intense willingness, to sink to the bottom of the ocean, my eyes open the entire time, to catch a glimpse of the alien universe that lies beneath. It’s too tempting, for goodness sake, it’s right here! Our own home; no space shuttles necessary.

    This cruise will remain a precious memory to share for as long as I live. But more than that, it has changed who I am and has gifted such inspiration. I have fallen in love out here in the Pacific, above an underwater volcano, on a research vessel, hundreds of miles from land…

    Cody, Greg and me!

    Cody, Greg and me!

    -Amanda

     
  • vgamezmo 12:21 pm on July 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Week 1/4 “LAST US-Mexico Border Water and Environmental Sustainability (UMB-WEST) Summer Campaign” 

    Hola a todos!!! (Hello everyone!!!)

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    Several participants looking for equipment that we will be taking to Mexico!

    The preparation for the LAST campaign officially started this past Monday, July 21, 2014 at 9 am, to be precise. We have been successfully preparing for our trip to Sonora, Mexico which will last for two weeks. Professor Enrique Vivoni and 12 participants (undergraduate and graduate students from different backgrounds) will be traveling to Mexico this Sunday to accomplish several goals, which include:

    • Deploying instrumentation
    • Conducting field sampling
    • Visiting water infrastructure projects, and
    • Interacting with local water managers.

    I could go on and on about every little detail, but you can further read and learn about the UMB-WEST 2012 and 2013 Campaigns by clicking on this link. I want to focus more about the experiences and challenges that make the 2014 UMB-WEST Campaign unique. 

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    Quad-copter! Takes aerial images with a high resolution.

    This year we are using a Quad-copter for the first time! We plan on taking aerial pictures of the sites, and you can see an image of it on the left <——. Something very neat about the instrument is how it can be controlled with your cellphone by simply downloading a free app! All of the participants are learning how to use the equipment that will be used to perform the different experiments in Mexico. Some of the experiments that will be completed in the next two weeks entail constructing a weir, setting up a mobile tower, complete a topographic survey, recover stations that were installed in previous years, and pass out surveys to local Sonoran neighborhoods to know their opinion in regard to water issues.

    Additionally, we have been learning about GIS mapping through ArcMap and the end result can be seen in our Facebook page. The HEC-HMS hydrological model was also taught to the participants by Dr. Ted Bohn, Enrique’s Post-Doc student.

    I am very excited to be part of this team because everyone is very enthusiastic, positive, and prepared to solve any problem we might run into. We are working together as a team and getting things done efficiently. Week 2 will consist of mainly meeting Mexican officials who make the decisions about water issues in Sonora, so I will basically be the reporter of the week. Hopefully I have internet access to publish the “hot” topics that are brought up during the presentations, if not once we come back from Mexico I will publish it!

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    2014 UMB-WEST Group departing from Tempe!

    Cuidense y espero lean el proximo blog (Take care and hopefully you read the next blog)

    See you later Tempe!!!

    -Vivianna G.M.-

    2014 UMB-WEST participant

    hydrology

     
  • cayoung5 4:35 pm on July 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Diving to an Underwater Volcano – NSF Cruise AT26-17A, Alvin Dive 

    “Under the sea, it seems my every gaze is as stolen from some forbidden world; and it triggers an emotional shock that never flags…”

    Jacques-Yves Cousteau, 1976

    20140722175233

    Alvin Dive Log: 4742
    Date: 22 July, 2014
    Dive time: 08:00
    Dive Depth: ~1550m

    Pilot: Bob Waters
    Port Observer: Eric Mittelstaedt
    Starboard Observer: Cody Youngbull

    Location: ASHES Vent Field
    Lat: 45.933299
    Lon: -130.013682

    Original Dive Objectives:
    This dive’s primary objective is to deploy the VentCam and the Diffuse Effluent Monitoring System (DEMS) camera at the phoenix vent site and to recover the device that Bill and Kang deployed on dive 4741. Secondary objectives of this dive include taking 5L of bottom water using the small Niskin system, deploying a portable dot pattern screen analog of DEMS, and recovering one coated High Temperature HOBO from the Inferno vent. Tertiary objectives of this dive are to collect rock samples.

    Accomplished Objectives on this Dive:
    All objectives accomplished. The VentCam was successfully deployed, targeted onto phoenix vent focused flow, and confirmed to be operational. The DEMS camera system was successfully deployed, positioned over phoenix vent diffuse flow, and confirmed to be operational. The portable dot pattern screen was deployed, imaged and recovered. 5L of bottom water were sampled with the Niskin system at various locations. The coated High-Temperature HOBO probe was recovered from inferno vent. Rock samples were collected from regions of recent (2011 eruption) flow and old lava flow.

    Dive Log (GMT time)
    14:59 hatch sealed
    15:04 alvin in water
    15:08 swimmers clear, commencing dive
    15:12 70 meters depth
    15:20 passing through layer of bio-luminescent Cnidaria (jelly fish and siphonophores)
    15:51 300 meters off bottom
    16:00 100 meters off bottom
    16:13 bottom sighted
    16:15 approaching southeast landing zone
    16:18 commencing to homer beacon
    16:24 sheet flow formation noted for future drop sites
    16:30 VentCam sighted at drop zone. move to approach.

    20140722152839
    16:35 moving VentCam weights into Alvin basket to compensate weight
    16:38 repositioning Alvin to acquire VentCam
    16:39 VentCam retrieved (small foot stuck in basalt lost)
    16:41 releasing water to compensate weight for ascent to 10 meters off bottom
    16:48 10 meters off bottom. proceeding to phoenix vent 200 meters from current location
    17:05 diffuse flow sighted. hydrothermal activity off port
    17:06 markers #73 and #74 identified. confirmed we are at phoenix vent. white bacterial mats.
    17:09 placing VentCam
    17:11 VentCam on bottom. moving to position VentCam on phoenix vent focused flow
    17:14:14 good video of coated HT HOBO & auxiliary structure
    17:18:20 lens cap removed from VentCam. waiting for confirmation of VentCam function. laser
    emission confirms, VentCam is operational.
    17:25 Collecting Niskin #1. awaiting confirmation from ship on VentCam alignment.
    17:31 leaving phoenix vent to retrieve DEMS from drop site
    17:37 40 meters from DEMS drop site
    17:38 DEMS sighted on port
    17:42 DEMS grasped. Releasing water to lift off bottom
    17:45 moving to collect souvenir rocks
    17:46 rock sample #1. Folds of sheet flow at DEMS landing site.
    17:49 souvenir rock grab complete. moving water onboard. proceeding to return to phoenix vent site
    18:00 verified that DEMS illuminates during transit
    18:06 positioning DEMS on phoenix vent diffuse flow
    18:07 moving water onboard to compensate weight
    18:12 rotating DEMS camera 180degrees to position properly on site
    18:19 DEMS positioned. pulling pin on DEMS to commence leveling. pin retrieved to basket leg
    18:22 DEMS camera leveled
    18:24:00 rotating to check VentCam and confirm illumination
    18:28:39 good views of VentCam. waiting to confirm strobe operations
    18:30 verified VentCam lights come on.
    18:35 placing Portable Random Dot Pattern.
    18:39:22 picture of Portable Dot Pattern crush.
    18:34 high zoom of Portable Dot Pattern with starboard brow cam
    18:46:30 video of Portable Dot Pattern
    18:51:49 camera removed from Portable Dot Cam
    18:55:33 reading temperature on lower portion of Portable Dot Pattern
    18:59:12 reading temperature on upper portion of Portable Dot Pattern
    19:01:58 ceasing temperature reads
    19:02:26 removing Portable Dot Pattern from sea floor and retrieving to basket
    19:06:44 collecting Niskin #2 water sample atop diffuse flow at phoenix
    19:08:17 leaving phoenix. Heading to Inferno for HT HOBO retrieval.
    19:12 arrived at inferno vent
    19:12:42 Coated HT-HOBO #7 Retrieved from cone
    19:15:17 proceeding move to golem vent
    19:16:35 collecting Niskin #3. Proceeding to Marker #21 for Kang’s instrument from golem vent
    19:20:30 imaging Kang’s instrument on golem vent
    19:21:44 Limpit growth on Kang’s instrument
    19:25:20 retrieved Kang’s instrument to basket
    19:26:40 leaving golem vent. heading to examine phoenix vent and to check DEMS and VentCam
    19:30 returned back at phoenix vent and confirmed VentCam and DEMS are operational
    19:31:40 Niskin #4 collected at phoenix vent
    19:32:15 circling phoenix to capture video of VentCam and DEMS in operation
    19:34:02 both VentCam and DEMS in field of view on starboard brow camera

    PORT_S001_S001_T007.MOV

    20:00:00 recording both VentCam and DEMS illuminating simultaneously. odd pulse observed on
    VentCam
    20:07:05 Niskin #5 collection. moving to caldera wall
    20:09:51 arrived at wall. proceeding up wall to retrieve rock sample for Dan Fornari
    20:15:00 retrieving rock sample #2 from 12 meters up on caldera wall from base. bowling ball shaped
    rock sample imaged.
    20:18:23 all objectives accomplished transiting to Ashes south east landing zone
    20:38:50 after speaking topside we’ve changed plans and are now heading to region of new flow for
    additional rock collection
    20:42 following large white skate

    20140722154110

    20:48:50 retrieving rock from flow boundary. new flow pillow basalt crust rock sample collection
    20:50:00 focus on rock sample #3 from 2011 flow
    20:56:00 imaging rock sample #4. may not in fact be old flow given the amount of glass present?
    moving to more confirmed old flow site
    20:58:21 at site of old flow. retrieving rock. very brittle. having difficulty.
    21:07:14 finally got rock sample #5 from old sheet flow
    21:08:46 rock sample #5 imaged and placed in basket. proceeding move to region of new flow.
    21:24 transiting west to region of old flow
    21:26:34 retrieving rock sample #6 from old flow
    21:27:14 imaging rock sample #6
    21:28 moving south 100 meters
    21:37 field of yellow bacteria clumps. retrieving rock sample #7 from this location.
    21:38:50 proceeding move onto site of new flow
    21:44:32 attempt a final rock collection. failing in attempt.
    21:47:43 battery low. moving to departure zone.
    21:50 permission to surface granted. dropping weight. heading up.

     
  • cayoung5 10:20 pm on July 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Diving to an Underwater Volcano – NSF Cruise AT26-17A, Day 11-12 

    Yesterday I thought our optical experiments were unlikely to get in the water again and I wasn’t going to be able to go down to the bottom of the ocean in the Alvin. Today, the modems are ready to go in and I’m scheduled to dive at 6am tomorrow.

    In about one hour, Greg, Amanda and I will be attaching the optical network modems onto the CTD cable. Man did we ever pull that one off the tarmac! What can I say, I don’t want to jinx anything but everything is looking good. You can’t be afraid of jinxing things when you’re a scientist at sea, one because a scientist shouldn’t believe in such things, and two because there is a constant question being asked about your readiness to deploy by other scientists. So that is what this is, and I’m here to report that we are ready.

    As far as the Alvin dive goes, I was fourth on the list to go for our team (there are two teams with bottom time) but with all the weather and electronics problems that made us scrap previous dives, I got bumped. Ultimately, two experienced scientists (who had both been in Alvin numerous times in their lives) gave up their seats in order to move me up the list onto tomorrow’s dive. It was a very kind gesture. This is the new Alvin, re-designed at a cost of $41 million dollars and launched for the first time this year. They may not get a chance to go again for years. The only thing that could stop the dive from happening in ten hours from now is a freak storm that appears from nowhere or more unexpected electronics problems. The chances are in my favor and no matter what happens we’re blessed to be part of this adventure.

    We have much to do at the bottom which means we have to move stuff around, take sensor readings, collect samples and take video images. We get to bring one pillow case of personal items. I’ll have extra clothes, paper and pen (no electronics allowed), and pictures of my family. I will be sitting starboard side of the ball. Sort of laying on my right side in a partial fetal position with my face pressed to the polymer window most of the time. We aren’t allowed shoes and the walls of the sphere are all padded with cushy black material so it’s really quite cozy. Actually we reside in less than half the sphere because a ladder comes down the middle and behind the ladder on one side are gas bottles (enough for many days of air). On our side of the ladder are all the controls and the three passenger positions. We have five windows to look out. One for the pilot looking out in front and two more on each side for each of the scientists. One of those two are at the small of your back so you have to twist around to your other side to look through it. If I am to ever extend my legs tomorrow I will have to ask the scientist across from me to move and make accommodation.

    The only tumultuous part of the journey will be launch and recovery when the Alvin might sit for a long time bobbing about in the waves. We don’t eat breakfast but we do get lunch in the ball and we are home before dinner. The lunch consists of both PB&J and cold cut sandwiches. The cold cuts are back on the menu after a brief hiatus due to policy which forced them off when a pilot got food poisoning. Can you imagine being stuck in a small sphere at the bottom of the ocean and having to do all that in a plastic bag basically sitting on two other colleagues laps? That would have been the worst place to be in the whole ocean.

    I can’t possibly end this entry that way. Let me also add that I will be back tomorrow evening to tell you what happened. I’m asking Greg to post something about his experiences thus far and to report what goes on tonight with the modems on the CTD cable too. Keep your fingers crossed for uneventful modem operations and an easy Alvin launch in the morning.

     
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