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Gumbys and Mud

07/15/2012, 8:34 PM by Lollie Garay
Gumby Felipe and company<br/><br/>Credit: Tish Yager
Gumby Felipe and company
Photo Credit: Tish Yager

July 15,2012

Lat 10° 40.5468N

Long 55° 1.99212W

Air Temp 28.10°C 82.58°F

SST 28.66°C 83.588°F

Salinity 34.03 psu

Well, the science has begun! At this posting, Chief Tish reports that they are finishing up sampling station 2. They actually began on Saturday, but had a few glitches with the CTD and MOCNESS, which are now operational. They’ve already collected mud from 4200 m and had 2 more deep CTDs to do Sunday night. From here on out, it’ll be busy times onboard the Atlantis!

The “mud” I refer to above is the core sediment sampling being done by Will Berelson’s Team from the University of Southern California. He isn’t onboard this time but has a crew of 3 from USC working the sediment coring: Technician Nick Rollins, Grad Student Laurie Chong, and Undergrad student Jake Porter.

In Will’s words, their job is “ to collect cores from sediments influenced by the Amazon Plume, and to analyze the pore waters from these sediments as a measure of the reactions occurring within the mud.”

“We will also be collecting cores from near the Amazon discharge, here we will section cores for analyses of how much reactive carbon is in the mud and whether this carbon is mainly derived from the oceanic plant or terrestrial plants (using C isotopes to distinguish).”

Ph.D. candidate Laurie Chong is studying geochemistry and the influence the Amazon River has on the ocean. Laurie is blogging for her family and has generously allowed me to include some of her comments on the ANACONDAS blog. This is a big help since she is actually on the ship, while I’m on terra firma!

Laurie describes the first couple of days: “Most everyone on board is researching something that involves paying attention to the diurnal cycles of life, meaning that ocean processes behave differently during the day than they do at night. A flurry of activity starts just before dawn as people prepare for net tows and collecting water with the CTD. “

“CTD stands for 'Conductivity Temperature and Depth', and is the primary means of collecting samples of water throughout different depths in the ocean.  It consists of a ring of hollow cylindrical bottles, what we call the rosette, and each tube has a top and bottom seal that can be closed on command.  When deployed, all the caps are open, allowing water to pass freely through it as the rosette descends to the deepest target depth. On the way down, sensors attached to the frame provide key measurements of the water properties, including chlorophyll and oxygen content. Then, the bottles are 'fired' at chosen depths on the way back up.  This way, we're able to get 'snapshots' of the ocean.”

“Rounding out the … sampling is the zooplankton group who use a specialized instrument called a 'MOCNESS', which is able to collect zooplankton from different depths in the ocean.  Unfortunately, they'd been having problems with it at station 1, and those troubles continued today.  Given how routine sampling can get out here, it's sometimes easy to forget how lucky we are to be able to get these samples and do our science.  During each deployment, there is a number of things that could go wrong and leave us with nothing, yet somehow we pull through and the data keeps coming.”

When the team began their voyage this weekend, one of the first orders of business was the safety meeting. Muster numbers and stations are assigned to everyone onboard and emergency procedures are explained. In an emergency it’s important to be able to account for everyone and, everyone needs to understand what he or she is supposed to do. Of course, as they’re trying on their survival gear (Gumby suits), there’s a fair share of laughter and silliness – can’t be helped! Check out the attached images. (In case you haven’t figured it out yet, if you click on the individual images, they will automatically enlarge for better viewing.)

Since this is the third ANACONDAS cruise, we’re adding some little known facts about the team at the end of the blogs. Fun stuff that gives a little more insight into the human aspect of the scientists!

Laurie reveals that in her spare time she’s also a Championship Level Amateur Ballroom Dancer in the American Smooth style and plays as a defenseman for the USC Women’s Ice Hockey Team.  She loves to cook and when ashore, tries to bake bread every weekend!

Joanna Green (blog 1) says she’s been belly dancing for several years now, both Egyptian and Tribal Style.  A photo of her dancing is actually hanging in an art gallery in Atlanta!  She also enjoys long-distance running and has done several half-marathons.

Who knew?? :)









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Question of the Day

  • Do the bacteria in the water make us sick?

    Only a few of them.  Bacteria are in every habitat on Earth, growing in soil, hot springs, radioactive waste, water, as well as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. Bacteria recycle nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on these organisms, such as nitrogen fixation.