| Daily Updates: May 2002
| Daily Updates: June 2002
Latitude: 0 deg 48.6'N
Longitude: 86 deg 13.5W
Wind Direction: SSE
Wind Speed: 16 Knots
Sea State 3
Swell(s) Height: 4-6 Foot
Sea Temperature: 81°F (27.2°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1012.8 MB
Visibility: 12 Nautical Miles
Biscuits and Grazy
Oriental Chicken Soup
Duck with Orange Sauce
Sea Bass Fillet with Red Pepper Butter
Garlic Fried Rice
Potato cheese souffle
Rye Bread Rolls
May 28, 2002
by Lonny Lippsett
As Alvin descended
to the seafloor today, two of its thrusters conked out. It required
a quick decision.
There was no danger to the sub or anyone in it. But Alvin was not as nimble
as it normally is. The plan had been to spend the first part of the day looking
for the elusive Rose Garden vent site. And then the sub would return
to the newly found, and still unnamed vent site. But with less maneuverability, Alvin could
not cover as much ground.
In Alvins sphere,
Susan Humphris, Craig McLean and Pilot BLee Williams decided
to go first to the new site and map and photograph it thoroughly. Alvin flew
back and forth over the new vent site, like a lawnmower mowing
a lawn, until it had gathered enough high-resolution photographs
to create a photomosaic of the entire field.
Alvin has many back-ups so that it can still keep goingbut
theres a limit, and we approached that limit, Williams said. We
were probably at 50 to 75 percent capability. It was harder to maintain a straight
course. We actually did very well with what we had.
The new vent field is about 60m by 40m. The fresh lava suggests that the site
is very young, and many of the animals dwelling amid the warm hydrothermal fluids
wafting out of seafloor cracks are also very young. Some of the tubeworms, which
can grow up to 2 m long, are only 2 cm. The scientists named it Rosebud, because
it could well grow into something like the Rose Garden. (Rosebud is
also a key word in a famous movie called Citizen Kane, but thats
Tomorrow, Alvin will try one last time to find Rose Garden. But the Rose
Garden that scientists first saw in 1979 and last saw in 1990 may no longer look
as it did then. A seafloor eruption since 1990 may have overrun it with lavalike
Pompeii after Mount Vesuvius erupted. It may be gone, or may look so different
that we might not be able to recognize it.
Why cant we just return to the spot on a seafloor map where previous scientists
found Rose Garden, you ask? There are no signposts on the seafloor, and we see
no markers from previous visits to guide us. We cannot directly use Global Positioning
Satellites (GPS). Satellites use electromagnetic waves, and these do not penetrate
water. Today, we use Global Positioning Satellite to position our ship Atlantis on
the surface. But then Atlantis must use sound waves to locate our transponders
on the seafloor. (See Oceanographic Tools-Navigation under Deeper Discovery)
When Rose Garden was last visited in 1990, Alvin did not even use transponders
to locate Rose Garden. The crew then was incredibly lucky. They landed almost
right on it and found it in 8 minutes. Before then, GPS was not as available
or as accurate as it is now. So any location for Rose Garden plotted then is
We need to be absolutely sure were in the right place, Susan
said. When youre in Alvin you can see perhaps 30 feet out
of the porthole. We have covered a lot of ground, but theres a lot of seafloor
in between. These vent sites are not that big, its easy to miss them.
What about Alvins thrusters? Unless the scientists decide
theyve had enough for this cruise, well find a way to fix them overnight, said
BLee, casting a glance at Susan Have you had enough, Susan?
She gave him a tired, but no-nonsense look.
Well fix em, BLee said, casting a sly glance at Susan.
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