Daily Update: Missing: One elevator. Please return to RV Knorr
25 deg 19.2S
Longitude: 70 deg 02.5E
Wind Direction: NE
Wind Speed: 15-20 Knots
Sea State 3
Swell(s) Height: 5-7 Foot
Sea Temperature: 77°F (25°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1018.2 MB
Visibility: 18+ Nautical Miles
new elevator nears completion
and was launched tonight.
By Amy Nevala
scientists and the DSOG team spent last night and this morning
searching in vain for our elevator, which somehow released
from the seafloor in rough weather during our five-day absence
from the 25°S site.
more than six hours of searching the seafloor, ROV Jason pilot
Marc Bokenfohr early this morning found the elevators anchor
weight on the ocean bottom. This was strong evidence that the
elevators trigger released prematurely, setting it free
on an unplanned journey into the Indian Ocean.
left the elevator on the seafloor on April 11, when high seas
prevented its safe recovery. The 14-foot high elevator, used
to transport samples and equipment to and from the seafloor,
went missing loaded with over $70,000 worth of containers,
scoops and other sampling gear.
Efforts to locate our elevator failed using the acoustic
transponder signal. The transponder has less than a 10-mile range
and works only when the elevator is submerged. The lack of a signal
is one sign that the elevator probably floated to the surface and
is not hanging in limbo mid-way up the water column.
Once it hit the surface and headed out of town, we wouldnt be able
to follow it anymore, said oceanographer Bob Collier.
We calculated today that it may have drifted with
the southwesterly flowing currents as much as 60 miles from Knorr, its
yellow floats bobbing in the blue waves.
But there is no time to lose crying over lost elevators, said Geologist
Dan Fornari. We have only eleven days left to finish our science programs
and much left to do.
morning the DSOG team and several scientists made another elevator
using spare parts and equipment brought along -- just in case
this happened. Elevator number two will join ROV Jason on the
What will become of our lost elevator? Since we believe
it rose to the surface, its location is controlled by the currents, said Second Mate Doug
Mayer, who has 20 years of sea experience and a special interest in oceanography.
Surface ocean currents are driven by the wind. Their
speed and direction also depend on the depth of the water, the
underwater topography, the size and shape of nearby landmasses,
and the Earths rotation.
By Dougs estimation, there are several possibilities for the elevators
fate in the Indian Ocean. First, it could simply circulate in the Indian Oceans
gyre, a counterclockwise circulation system that occupies a large part of this
A westerly journey into the South Equatorial Current
is another possibility. This current bumps into Madagascar; eventually
our elevator could wash up on that islands white sand beaches.
Or it could flow from the South Equatorial Current
into the fast-paced Agulhas Current, which flows south, hugging
the southeastern coast of Africa. One day, South African beach-goers
could spy our elevator off their shores.
Despite todays setback, spirits remained high and scientists kept busy.
Those in the control van used ROV Jason to map the seafloor and continue exploring
around the 25°S vents. The Plume Team analyzed the data from the great hydrothermal
plume they discovered yesterday at 24°S site.
In spite of the lost elevator, the show -- as they
say -- must go on.
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