Female Scientist · Science · Science Cruise Research

BYE, BYE AUCKLAND, HELLO PACIFIC OCEAN

NOTE: Pictures will be posted soon. I have to get permission for more data usage from the “Keeper of the Internets”. Also, this was meant to be posted last night (but no more data).

On May 16 (about a week ago) I boarded the Roger Revelle in Auckland Harbor, my “home” until June 17. I have looked forward to this trip since I was invited to join. This is my second time at sea, and my love for marine geophysics is just increasing.

Partial picture of "home"

We spent a few days in port preparing the research equipment (testing equipment) and loading the ship with food for 1-month at sea. Yes that is right, you read correctly – I will be living on this boat for 1-month. We return to port in Napier, New Zealand on June 17. Luckily the boat is quite big, and there are not a lot of scientists on board (10 in the science party and 3 observers -they watch for marine mammals while we shoot our seismic surveys) with 21 crew-members, which all means the scientists each get their own rooms. While the rooms are not 4-star (not that I would know the difference), they are private, which is all that really matters.

We officially left port on May 19, 2015 at 16:00pm (NZDT). All the scientists stood on the main deck as we pulled away from the harbor and watched as the North Island faded in the distance. There is something incredibly peaceful and calming about being in the middle of the ocean, which is saying a lot coming from someone who gets INCREDIBLY seasick. Note: I am wearing a scopolamine patch to keep the seasickness away – it works VERY well, I have not been even a little seasick. This is also when many of us began to adjust to our shifts for the next month. The science is split into 2 shifts, 12am-12pm and 12pm-12am; I am on the latter of the two.

Crew releasing us from the dock...out to sea we go.
Crew releasing us from the dock…out to sea we go.
Auckland Harbor was we are headed to sea
Auckland Harbor was we are headed to sea

It took us ~26 hours of transit to arrive at our first waypoint. At this point, I, along with 4 others in the science party and the research technicians, congregated on the back deck to deploy the heat flow instrument (aka: ANGUS). And the science begins…

Rob and Rachel working on ANGUS
Rob and Rachel working on ANGUS

The first heat flow transect went quite smoothly. After ~24 hours we recovered ANGUS, cleaned the instrument, and prepared the second data logger for deployment during our 2-hour transit. I went to sleep (it was the end of my shift) right after ANGUS went back into the water. Due to my unwavering insomnia, I was up again ~4am and decided to check on the experiment and be sure some of the scientists were in bed (2 were not sleeping much and I thought if I were up I should be helping). At this point I learned that ANGUS was not working properly, and we were only going to do 5 of the slotted 16, or until the first data logger was charged. I decided to go back to bed (3 people were up and didn’t need help). When I returned to the main lab a few hours later it was about time to pull ANGUS from the water.

We should have known better than to think everything would run smoothly for long.

While the instrument was being swapped, I went to the lounge to do yoga. I have found someone on ship to practice with, so we now have a standing “date” for yoga in the lounge. Yoga on a boat, particularly when it is rolling, is quite interesting and very challenging. But it has been a good way for me to workout while I ship.

By the time my shift started ANGUS was back in the water. We took the remaining 10 measurements, and again pull ANGUS from the water. Another 2-hour transit to our 3rd transect, in which we prepared ANGUS for his 3rd deployment. Deployment occurred ~midnight (or bed time for me). The plan was to take measurements until ~8-9am , recover ANGUS, and make the 2-hour transit to the first seismic survey waypoint.

20150522_112614
ANGUS going into the water

The weather had been discussed several times so far during the cruise, and there had been talk of a storm coming that could require us to stop all experiments for a few days. We hoped for the best!

As we arrived on-site for the seismic survey, the cables were not performing properly. The research technicians thought they had the problem fixed ~12pm, and the cables went into the water. The air guns were started and tinkering began. Everything appeared to be working but data was not being sent to the ship. As 4pm rolled around (pun intended) the instruments were still not performing and the wind was picking up.

As dinner started (ooohhhh dinner…I will write about the food some other time), the decision was made to pull the seismic instruments from the water, troubleshoot the problems, and plan to redeploy. I agreed to assist with pulling the instruments from the water – little did I know how bad this storm had become.

Like many of my fellow geologists, I have done fieldwork in all sorts of weather. This may very well have been the worst weather I have worked in. The wind speed was about 30 knotts, rain was coming down sideways, and the boat was rocking and rolling ~10 degrees in all directions. It took ~1.5 hours to recover and secure the instruments. I returned to the lab soaking wet – thanks for keeping me dry rain gear – and warmed up dinner.

With that, the blog is up-to-date. I realize I left out quite a bit with regards to the methods, the people, the food (oooooh, the food), and so much more, but I wanted to bring the blog current. Needless to say it has been a busy week. Right now we are in a holding pattern, waiting for the weather to improve. More to come with respect to pictures, science nerdiness, and whatever else may come to mind.

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