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windyrainy weather
Windy and Rainy
78°F (25.6°C)
Latitude: 25 deg 20.3’S
Longitude: 70 deg 02.3’E
Wind Direction: SSE
Wind Speed: 25 Knots
Sea State 4
Swell(s) Height: 15-18 Foot
Sea Temperature: 79°F (26.1°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1014.0 MB Visibility: 5 Nautical Miles

When a Styrofoam cup descends
to great depths, it shrinks, like
the cup in the middle.

Read your poems and stories

Daily Update: Honey, I shrunk the cups
April 12, 2001
By Amy Nevala

Scientists Bob Collier and Charlotte Meredith brought an unusual catch in with the CTD sensor this afternoon - miniature Styrofoam cups.

The cups descended into the Indian Ocean this morning the size of regular coffee cups, but as they encountered the increasing pressure down to depths of 3,300 meters (almost two miles), they shrunk to the height of golf tees.

Bob’s eight-year-old daughter, Elise, and her third grade class at Harding Elementary School in Corvallis, Oregon decorated 28 Styrofoam cups in bright fish, happy faces and American flags. Bob will deliver the mini-cups to the class, along with a lesson on ocean pressure, after this expedition.

Despite successes with the cups, today we failed to find a hydrothermal plume. Bob said this is somewhat of a puzzle, since last week we saw signs of a plume after sampling here.

“We think it’s due to a change in bottom currents,” said Bob. The plume may now be flowing in another direction, like smoke from a chimney shifting in the wind.

This evening, we have more information to help locate the plume. Despite 15 to 18 foot swells, Captain AD Colburn and his crew retrieved the current meter from the ocean today. The instrument’s data show that currents near the seafloor in this area flow south at speeds of about 1/4 knot.

“This means that if I see I plume, I will look north, or upstream for its vent source,” said Bob.

Tonight we will use the CTD for more measurements and water sampling, factoring in the southern current flow to close in on possible plume target areas. When we get close enough and when the seas subside, we will lower cameras and other tools to pinpoint the yet-unidentified hydrothermal vents that are the sources of the plume.

Dinner tonight brightened any damp moods about the high seas. Geologist Dan Fornari simmered and stirred a garlic-and-basil-laden Italian feast. Pesto with crunchy pine nuts, a meaty Bolognese sauce, and a spicy marinara olive sauce over pasta topped the menu, chased by a rich chocolate mousse that draped our tongues like silk.

“It’s my Mom’s recipe,” said Dan “It has become a tradition that I cook on every cruise I go on. I do this as a small token of appreciation for all the hard work of the ship’s crew.”

Happy eaters exited the galley rubbing round stomachs and mumbling intentions to “get on that exercise bike first thing tomorrow.”

3rd Grade Harding Elementary
Mrs. White’s third grade class sent 28 decorated Styrofoam cups to the Indian Ocean with oceanographer Bob Collier. Today he “shrunk” the cups by lowering them to a water depth of 3,300 meters.


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