Steaming South

Wed, 23 Jul 2008 10:15 PM PDT

• As the ship steamed south, we used the EM300 multibeam sonar to continuously map the base of the continental slope. The ship’s track ranged between 60 and 90 miles offshore. During this transit, the mapping included coverage of one of the Regional Scale Nodes sites and will help reveal potentially hazardous areas such as submarine landslide chutes.

• The TowCam system was lowered at 0930h to test the system at depth and to collect water samples from the mid-continental slope area at ~1250 m depth offshore the Straits of Juan de Fuca. We lowered the camera to ~3 meters above the seafloor and collected images from altitudes of 3-8 meters to test the exposure settings on the digital camera.  Images from ~5 meters were good but lower altitude images were washed out due to reflective white/buff colored sediments. Six Niskin water bottles were triggered and all collected good water samples.

•The water samples from TowCam were collected for the scientists from Arizona State University , who have been dubbed the  “oceanographers from the desert.” The water samples will be analyzed back at ASU for genetic material as well as optical absorption qualities and chemical content.  Some of the samples were frozen, some were left liquid. Part of the analysis on shore will be to compare these different modes of sample preparation.

• Keith Grochow, graduate student at the University of Washington, presented a lecture on the Collaborative Ocean Visualization Environment (COVE), a visual interface tool for oceanographers. COVE is being used in planning the Regional Scale Nodes observatory. Specifically, on this Insite08 cruise, COVE is being used to plan the surveys. Keith’s dissertation thesis at the University of Washington is on COVE.

• John Delaney, Chief Scientist, presented a lecture on The Leading Edge of an Environmental Renaissance, where he discussed how crucial the oceans are to the habitability of the planet. New approaches to studying the oceans, such as the extensive sensor networks that the Ocean Observatories Initiative will install in the ocean basins of the western hemisphere, are key.

Contributed by Nancy Penrose, Science Support