Another great dive today to Von Damm. We didn’t dive until 6am but happily that gave Casey and the rest of the Nereus team plenty of chance to get our manipulator fixed and working really well again without any of the twitches from the day before.
On the seabed by 7:30 we quickly found some very nice hot water flowing from a crack in the hillside to the North of the main spire that had an aurora of shrimp around it but was too hot for mega-fauna habitation. But what about the microbes? Julie bravely stepped forward to answer that, along with Chip and Sean at the back of the control van checking the temperatures of the fluids and making sure the SuPR sampler was doing its magic. Right after that, Jeff joined the party to decide, along with Jill, that they didn’t want to collect samples from the same site but, instead, that they were interested in any other vent they could find so long as it was 89°C exactly!
While this was going on, we also got to thinking about names for Julie’s new site that would fit with a theme that Jill has already introduced into a paper that she is writing on the vent-fluid compositions at Von Damm. Knowing that we were immediately north of, and down-hill from, two sites that we know of as White Castle and Ginger castle, our decision making process worked as follows… Inspired by the fact that Julie initially claimed she was too hungry to think before breakfast and also by the fact that the “Buttery” in a castle used to be a place that served wine and ale because the water wasn’t safe to drink, Julie chose her sampling site to be called “Shrimp Buttery”.
Jeff showed that he really wasn’t entering into the spirit of the process when, on arrival at what he initially described as “a good looking vent” and which he, Jill and Sean went on to sample, the best suggestion he coud make was that the site be called “Buttery Shrimp”. Fortunately, Leighton had already called up a web site on Medieval Castle terminology by this point and found a word that sounded really good: Bartizan. Even better was the description that followed: a bartizan is an overhanging, wall-mounted turret projecting from the walls of medieval fortifications, most frequently found at corners. Since we were at the northernmost promontory of the Von Damm field, on the steeply sloping wall of White Castle, this all seemed most apposite and Jill was happy to bestow her blessing on the name. With that sampling done, Cliff stepped in and spent 10-15 minutes of technical brilliance/voodoo (did I mention Arthur C Clarke in a blog already? The bit about advanced technologies being indistinguishable from magic?). Whatever Cliff did, it made our “James Cameron” cameras totally sing, so I then had a lot of fun filming close up at the Bartizan vent and in a fly-past of the whole White Castle complex with Casey.
Oases 2013: come for the vents, stay for the cultural enlightenment.
Also the driving lesson.
On completing our sampling to the north of Von Damm, it was time to high-tail it round the outside of the Von Damm site to where we broke off sampling yesterday. Knowing that all we had in store was a nice drive in the country for the next half hour, I posted the navigation screen on our live web-feed and went to alert Julie that we would be ready to collect her next sample in about 30 minutes. When I got back to the Control Room I was delighted to find Mario at the controls as Casey took the chance to give him a driving lesson. All was delightfully relaxed as we drove, off bottom, away from the edge of a cliff, out over deeper water and slowly circled around to come back to the same cliff top about 200m further south.
So far so good.
Mario was totally relaxed.
Then, as we got back to the seafloor, Casey helped guide Mario as he drove over the rugged terrain of the seafloor while I used a combination of the navigation screen and my memories of what the local area looked like on the seafloor to guide us to where Julie wanted to sample from.
Mario looked super pleased when we got there and was ready to vacate the pilot’s chair. Not so fast. “Stay where you are” said Casey. “If you want to be a pilot, you’ve got to learn how to sample.” Today was that day. While I prepared to skip out for lunch, Julie took over in the watch-leader’s chair and Mario took the sample: good job! Later this afternoon, after collecting 65 soluble shrimp (actually only 60 dissolved into thin air and made their getaway, 5 stayed for the ride to the surface), we developed a different problem with the manipulator but that problem is fixed already.
So tonight we are mapping the last few areas on the seafloor that remain untouched by Falkor’s sonar beams and will be diving at 06h00 tomorrow.