A long day

July 23, 2010

Lat/Lon: 42*38.42'N / 051*12.18'W
Air Temp: 17.6*C / 63.6*FWind Speed: 20.31 kts
Humidity: 83.7%
Water Temp: 15.29*C /59.54*F
Salinity: 31.84 psu
Depth: 2033 m / ~2 km / 1.24 miles

From left to right: Tom, Chris, Sarah, Marti and Frank

All dressed in buoyant and highly visible clothing, the second-watch crew braved the rain, the wind and the enormous waves to complete gravity cores today. A multi core was done once the weather calmed down a bit and a long core was also completed.

Ah - do forgive the brevity of this blog entry. It has been a long day of coring, balancing and waiting.

The day started out cold, foggy and rainy. I have to share that my grasp of temperatures in degrees celsius has vastly improved given that the blog reports temperature in both
units and our European researchers need it in celsius in conversation. The water temperature listed above is literally 10*F warmer than it was for the entire day. It was so foggy you could see very little in any direction. Several times throughout the day the sky cleared and the sun warmed our faces. But for the most part it has been cold, raw and difficult to stand, for the waves.

We saw more pilot whales! Up to four dorsal fins making their appearance at once. They stayed clear of the R/V Knorr but the hung around riding the huge
swells for quite some time. They were just amazing to watch!

Sarah and Tom are pictured to the right in the "man-basket" feeding bullets down the long core to push the core liner out way at the other end of the boat. I wish you could understand what a feat their nerves allowed them to accomplish. They were hanging way out there in all this weather and in all those waves. After waves pass under the
boat, Sarah and Tom had their feet pretty much in the water!

The segment of the gravity core driven the deepest into the sediment is referred to as "Section 1". When Section 1 was opened today - peeeeeyouuuu! the stink! All kinds of jokes were made - but the bottom line is that all that stink came from the breakdown of lots of life. This is a distinctly different biological environment than the ones we have been in to date.

The picture below is terrific! It shows segments of the long core with red tops that are stretched to their limit with gases in the sediment! They're nearly bursting!

Expert Nick McCave told us not to hang out around these cores -they could burst out of the casing! As it is the chief scientist had to go around to each of them stabbing holes to relieve some of the pressure. If you look closely at the picture to the right you'll see mud oozing out of the middle red-topped core - messy, smelly work!

Right now the boat is heave-ho-ing. More than one person has squeaked a "good night"
before crawling to bed. Everything has been tied down, the doors are dogged and we have an 18 hour steam ahead of us. That means a good, long rest for this tired crew!

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