Saturday 17th April

The diary today is written by Verity, from the night watch. Led by Bramley, the night watch team are: Diva, Maria, Nick, Veit, and Verity.

Overnight we sent HyBIS back down to the vents to collect samples and data for our geochemists, Doug and Carla. This meant flying the vehicle right into the smoke above the vents. The evening began earlier than usual (23:00) for the night watch:

21:00 On station and in position for our HyBIS dive, all pre-dive checks completed. Last minute checks being done by Bramley and Veit; Maria sleeping in preparation for a long night ahead - we will wake her when 1000 metres from the bottom. We started monitoring and logging the SAP (Stand Alone Pump), for Doug and Carla's chemistry analysis.

21:27 HyBIS in the water - logged launch details. Tiny and Mark on the winch. Time to make tea; Bram and I seem to get through 20 cups a day/night.

21:30 Lights off, music on, so far so good, tidy up the area, all get in the right chairs and comfortable - 'getting in the zone'. Descending at 40 metres a minute.

22:30 Looking good so far, half way down; time for a cup of tea again.

23:05 Maria is up.

23:30 Stopped at 4800 metres; asked the Bridge to move the ship a few metres to get closer to the vent chimney. All ready to go and Veit takes control.

23:50 Started the video, and we're logging everything we see. Winch cable is now paying out at 20 metres a minute, slowing down as HyBIS is near the bottom.

23:55 Tom takes over from Tiny on the winch.

00:00 Descend into buoyant plume (the smoke). Seafloor is in sight. The dive starts; lots of wave action up at the ship tonight, as a result of poorer weather today, so HyBIS is bouncing up and down.

00:08 At vent field, Bram takes over as pilot.

00.30 Lee takes over from Tom on the winch. Both winch-man and pilot sit side by side during these very delicate and tricky manoeuvres. Maria is capturing shots of the 'smokers' on another camera - super smooth motion needed tonight and she is doing a grand job, despite the heave up and down on the wire from the ship.

00:52 We're collecting a water sample using a right in the plume of the smoker, so hopefully it will give good results when analysed.

01:10 Veit piloting again, getting ready to move back into the plume of smoke immediately above the chimney - we want to start the Stand-Alone Pump (SAP) soon.

01:16 The SAP starts pumping; we hang around the plume for the next hour, while the SAP does its job and filters mineral particles from the water for Doug and Carla to analyse.

01:45 Time to wake up Mick half an hour before we finish the dive, because he needs to start hauling on the winch. We are flying a bit blind in the smoke, and our water sample bottle partially blocks one of the cameras, so we need to take extra care to avoid damaging the environment, travelling very slowly.

02:10 Back in the thick of the plume, but ready to start the journey back to the surface.

02:35 Bram gets a couple of hours sleep while HyBIS on the way back to the surface.

03:30 Listening to music.....

03:45 Doug is up to see how we got on with the samples. Change of plan, no second dive tonight; instead we are heading over to Mount Dent to launch Autosub6000 on another mission.

04:30 Lost the signal on the down-facing camera - will have to check this out when HyBIS is back on deck.

05:00 Bram up again, and we discuss the schedule for future dives.

05:55 HyBIS back on deck.

06:15 Doug pleased with the samples!

07:30 We head to breakfast, and then off for a good sleep.

March 2010


April 2010



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