Papua New Guinea, preparing for the start of data
acquisition. Clear but windy skies kept us on schedule
while completing tasks near the bottom of our 'must-do'
lists. Here you see the 2 GI airguns on the fantail, tied
down and ready. They will be towed in tandem, 2 meters
below the sea surface, 25 m behind the ship to provide
the acoustic source during our seismic surveys for IODP
the early hours of Sept 8. Low clouds provided a dramatic
cover to the lush mountainsides on both sides of the
estuary. We dropped anchor 300 m off the main dock
of this small town and were soon greeted by the pilot
boat bringing customs agents aboard for the requisite
checking in. Paperwork and passports passing back
and forth kept the Captain busy with a full complement
of PNG officials in the ship's library. The pilot returned
to shore and came back with a boatload of smiling faces.
each joining member of cruise RR1313 then climbed
aboard. Seen here are Ch. Scientist Yair Rosenthal
in front, with the remaining Science Party members behind.
All are rested to various degrees after long journeys to
this eastern tip of PNG.
We weighed anchor at 1pm and began a short echosounder
survey along the center off the Alotau estuary. An attractive
coring target was identified, we circled back for an intersecting
profile across it, called the bridge, and by 4pm we were raising
our first seabed sample. Seen here is the first such effort - a
successful MultiCore containing 8 separate cores of the topmost
sediment, each several 10's of cm long. Next we recovered a
15 ft gravity core, and that was followed by a 40 ft piston core
that when recovered was lashed to the starboard rail at 2am
the next morning.
It's been a crash course for some of the newcomers in the handling of marine cores. Despite the hour, the unfamiliar setting, and the long journeys to get here, the mood is satisfied fatigue and interest in what lays ahead. After a CTD cast to measure properties of the water column, we're off to deeper water. ---- Greg Mountain