| Daily Updates: May 2002
| Daily Updates: June 2002
Latitude: 0 deg 48.2'N
Longitude: 86 deg 13W
Wind Direction: SE
Wind Speed: 13 Knots
Sea State 2
Swell(s) Height: 2-4 Foot
Sea Temperature: 79°F (26.8°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1012.2 MB
Visibility: 12 Nautical Miles
Egg and Cheese Muffins
Veal Barley Soup
Teriyaki Chicken Pita
Red Beans and Rice
Ice Cream Bars
Baked Ham with Raisin Sauce
Grilled Catfish Fillets
Au Gratin Potatoes
Basmati Rice with Peas
Broccoli and Acorn Squash
Oh Henry Bars
We never promised you a Rose Garden
May 26, 2002
by Lonny Lippsett
Scientist Tim Shank emerged from Alvin late in the evening,
put on his shoes, walked down the gangplank, shrugged his shoulders,
and sighed. It was a lo-o-o-ong Sunday drive, he
out at 8 a.m. Sunday, seeking to return after 12 years to the
hydrothermal vent site known as Rose Garden.
Until today, we thought we knew where Rose Garden was, said Co-Chief
Scientist Steve Hammond, who joined Shank and Pilot Pat Hickey in the submersible. A
location for Rose Garden has been published in many scientific papers. Today,
we found a lot of places where Rose Garden wasnt.
Alvin submerged over the X that marked the spot where Rose Garden
was reported to be. That X is approximate because its difficult
to pinpoint an exact position on the seafloor. The crew searched over an area
of roughly 1 km by 1 km, traveling a total of 6 km. But they could not find Rose
It was a humbling reminder of the difficulties
of exploring the seafloor. Imagine parachuting into a desert, in
complete darkness, and trying to locate a particular sand dune
with only a flashlight. There are few landmarks to guide youjust
sand in all directions. Even when you run into a distinguishing featurelike
a hill or a valleyits difficult to figure out how that feature fits
in with the rest of the landscape that you cant see.
On the seafloor, Shank, Hammond, and Hickey watched
through Alvins viewports
as they passed over great folded fields of lava. But no vent life.
Rose Garden is believed to be on top of a small
ridge in the center of the 2-km-wide valley of the Galápagos Rift. Scientists call the ridge the axial
high. When Alvin reached the south wall of the valley,
the crew knew it had gone too far, and Hickey turned the sub around
to steer toward the center of the rift valley.
Sometimes you just get lucky, Tim said. Sometimes you try as
hard as you can, and nothing happens. It looked like today would be one
of those days. We hadnt given up yet, but we were pretty disheartened, Tim
But, then, the scientists saw that axial high.
And on it, was an area where a few cracks, about 10 meters long,
stretched along the seafloor. A few fish swam bya good sign. Shimmering, warm water wafted out of the cracks. The seafloor
was suddenly carpeted in anemones. And nestled in the cracks were tiny mussels
and clams, some as small as 2 centimeters (1 inch). With them were small tubeworms, Riftia
pachyptila, which can grow up to eight feet tall. The longest
ones here were only 2 feet and some were as small as 2 centimeters.
They could be very younga few months old, Tim said, and
Ive never seen only young clams, mussels, and tubewormswithout any
adultsall together in the same place. In 10 years of research, Ive
never seen a community structure like it.
By that time, Alvins batteries were
low and it had to surface. The crew left a marker on the seafloor
at the spot, and Alvin will
return tomorrow to explore this brand new vent site.
Then it will continue the search for Rose Garden, which should
also be on the axial high. In fact, the scientists now think
it is only 350 meters farther east.
We got very close, Hammond
said. We should find it tomorrow.
Unless its been covered over since 1990 by new lava.
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