April 13, 2015

Greetings readers. I have failed to recruit another blogger for this entry, but I can guarantee at least two additional voices will make an appearance here in the coming week or two. We also are in dire need of a cruise logo and T-shirt design: current idea involves the bathymetric profile and some anthropomorphized OBS at the bottom…

Given these important upcoming developments, I wanted to bring you a quick update. You see, research cruises invariably have a stressful moment at their halfway point or so when the amount of time relative to the science goals start to move toward one another, the novelty of the environment and work-flow starts to wane, and maybe even a personality conflict or two rises to the surface. Damon Teagle of Southampton referred to these times as “the hard yards” in reference to the months spent drilling the Pacific crust with IODP. That cruise was more than seven weeks long and one of three, so we hardly can complain a mere two weeks in or so. And in fact the largest disagreement I’ve had is with our engineer Anatoly Mironov about how best to use zip ties.

But here’s the suspenseful part. We will be pulling the air guns in from shooting our fourth profile by about 7 p.m. this evening. Then we need to recover the dozens of instruments, each one taking between one and two hours to recover given the rather long rise time of each (i.e. at roughly 55 meters per minute, 4 kilometers of rise time is 72 minutes!). As I said before, we are a slick operation that braves releasing our next OBS as soon as we set eyes on the previous one, and the Germans are even braver releasing the next OBS while the previous one is in the water column! Nonetheless, recovery will be a couple days…. Given that, it means we have a week to complete our final two profiles. However, if we make the next profile too ambitious, it could mean we do not get to do the final one. But if we don’t take some risk, we will not answer some key science questions. Ingo, Harm, Christine, and myself spend quite a bit of time scratching our heads about this dilemma, and discussing the relative science merits of each. I wouldn’t say we all completely agree, but we are a great team willing to listen to each other, offer opinions and advice, and ultimately trust Ingo as chief scientist to make the right call (no pressure Ingo).

Regardless, by tonight we’ll be recovering, which means we’ll be pretty busy for the next couple days. After that I’ll keep you posted on our operations, and explore some more science, and get a guest blogger or two on here.

– Nick

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