Monday, September 2, 2013

What a difference a day makes

We left Pago Pago, American Samoa under azure skies shortly after noon yesterday, heading towards our rendezvous with the rest of the Science Party at Alotau, Papua New Guinea.  The top two sections of our first piston core, ready for their arrival, were already assembled along the starboard rail.

Noticeably increased rolling and a few resounding thuds of seas against the hull woke some up during the night.  Breakfast arrived with pelting rain and white caps on running seas.  Outside work was replaced by chores set aside for days just like this.  And there's no end to those.  

Core description / sampling tables were arranged by Core Techs Paul Walczak and Chris Holm to accommodate the expected flow of sediment that will begin with core recovery, sectioning and labeling along the starboard rail.  Then into a lab on the port side for temperature equilibration followed by thru-liner measurements of sound velocity, magnetic susceptibility, resistivity and density using the multi-sensor track.  Angel Mojarro has been get this gear set up and calibrated.   Then the cores will go back aft to the splitting room for separation into Archive and Working halves.  The former will go immediately into a refrigerated van chained down on the fantail, the other forward into the main lab for photography, description and sampling.  More about the sampling by specialists in a later blog.  The cores will then be inserted into storage 'D-tubes' and placed alongside their Archive halves in the refrigerated van where they'll remain at 4°C until delivered to the Rutgers Core Repository sometime in the Fall.

In parallel, Seismic Techs Lee Ellett and Jay Turnbull worked today on the crucial synchronization of computer triggers, airgun control and satellite-guided navigation.  We'll be firing the airgun each time the ship has advanced 25 m along a pre-plotted track, meaning these systems must be in constant communication and not lose time by more than a millisecond while we are collecting data.  Computer communication between the lab and the bridge will be set up and tested in the next few days to ensure the helmsman is familiar with steering the ship within narrow tolerances to either side of that pre-plotted line.  

All of us are keeping Research Techs Matt Durham and Keith Shadle busy with questions of where can I find "X"? is there any "Y" on board?  who can help me do "Z" ?  Their jobs touch on an enormous range of activities that keep a research cruise functioning.

Rounding out the staff that will make our data gathering possible is Computer Tech Ben Cohen.  Today's rain may not be altering his place of work, but like every other day he's got a list of must-do items that is constantly interrupted by flare-up issues of one type or another from up on the bridge, to the main lab to items of importance down in the engine room.  Modern research ships are a buzzing hub of interconnected computer systems that very often make his a hectic job.  

Due to internet traffic on the HighSeasNet we've had long waits getting pictures sent along with the text of these blogs.  Tonight is no exception, but we'll try nonetheless.  Perhaps with a little experimentation we'll find a time of day that is better than others for uploads and will be able to include more visuals of what we're doing out here on the R/V Revelle.  ---- Greg Mountain