Daily Update: Happiness is a warm plume
25 deg 53.2S
Longitude: 69 deg 36.2E
Wind Direction: E
Wind Speed: 15-20 Knots
Sea State 4
Swell(s) Height: 6-8 Foot
Sea Temperature: 79°F (26.1°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1021.5 MB
Visibility: 18+ Nautical Miles
By Amy Nevala
enthusiasm shot through the ship today after members of the
Plume Team announced they had detected strong plume signals
at the 24°S site during their overnight Tow-yos.
this morning gathered in the main lab to hear Bob Collier,
Marvin Lilley and Darryl Green relay the happy news.
Just a few days ago we turned our backs on this area,
convinced it was a bust for hydrothermal vents. Last
night, we decided to give it one last shot before returning
to the Kairei Hydrothermal Field at 25°20S
to finish our work there.
was a winner. The plume not only had large quantities
of particles but also showed high temperatures and
salinities- a strong clue that a hydrothermal vent is nearby.
Were fairly hyped up about this, said Darryl, still smiling
after 30 hours of eye-straining computer work and data logging. Darryl says
he thinks a fairly large hydrothermal vent field resides on a steep slope along
the eastern side of the Central Indian Ridge rift valley.
German scientists found evidence of a plume in this
area 18 years ago. However, seafloor hydrothermal vents have not
yet been identified. Although we are now on our way to retrieve
the equipment and finish our work at 25°20S,
the plan is to return to the new plume site in several days to continue searching
for the actual hydrothermal vent field.
will be a brand new discovery if we find something here, said
The plume announcement was a breath of fresh air
after four days of seesawing on 15 foot waves under a dark
gray sky. Spirits were starting to sag, and many people
were eyeing the expeditions end now that we have crossed the half
way point, or Hump Day.
You cant let disappointment get in the way of science, said
Geologist Dan Fornari, a 30-year veteran of oceanographic expeditions who knows
the joys and sorrows of ocean research. Thats certainly true in oceanography
where the weather, as well as the Earth and ocean, sometimes seem to conspire
to keep you from solving a problem.
But then there are times like this, when it all comes together and you
make a breakthrough, said Geochemist Susan Humphris.
How did the Plume Team find the plume, when only
days ago it proved evasive? Partly because they knew that the currents
in this area flow south, a hint to narrow their search to sites
in the north. The other part was luck.
We could have been totally wrong, it was an educated guess, said
The Plume Team had a hint of a plume signal when
we first sampled at 24°S
on April 3. But when we tried again at the same place three days ago, the signal
was weak. Disappointed, we finally threw in the towel.
Last night, the Plume Team decided to move their
search about 8 nautical miles to the north. Luck was on our side
and almost immediately the computers registered signs of large
particle-rich plume clouds, thick with methane gas and metals such
Scientists this evening congratulated Bob, Marvin
and Darryl on their hard work. Soon after, the weary team retired
while the ship continued on to 25°20S.
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