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sunny weather
64°F (17.8°C)
Latitude: 27deg 0’ N
Longitude: 111deg 24’ W
Wind Direction: N
Wind Speed: 5 Knots
Sea State: 1
Swell(s) Height: 3 Feet
Sea Temperature: 65°F (18.3°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1014.6 MB
Visibility: 20+ Nautical Miles

what's to eat today?
Scrambled eggs
Cottage potatoes
Bagels with cream cheese
Almond currant scones
Fresh fruit

Split pea and vegetable soup
Fish ’n chips
BLT sandwich
Open face onion, tomatoes, pepper and cheese foccacia bread sandwich
Salad bar
Snickers bars

Meat loaf and gravy
Pan fried fish with cajun mayo
Mashed potatoes
Spicy cabbage
Snap peas
Spinach, turnips and rutabaga
Salad bar
Hot fudge sundae

Some of the styrofoam coffee cups that have been "shrunk" by going down to the bottom of the ocean on Alvin. The last dive always has an extra full cargo of these cups. A few hundred cups are “shrunk” on every Alvin cruise.

glass globe
One of Josh Simpson's “planets” that was taken down to the sea floor on today’s dive, Alvin 3523.

1.) Alvin and a crab
2.) Sampling hydrothermal fluid
3.) The “Planet” is placed

Daily Update: Dive 3523
January 20, 2000
By Dr. Dan Fornari and Dr. Susan Humphris

Today was the last dive day of the cruise. Pilot BLee Williams took Don Nuzzio and Dorothee Gotz down to the seafloor. There they took the final sediment cores and chemical-sensor measurements of the cruise.

Everybody on the ship took part in an Alvin tradition. Each person was given a Styrofoam “shrink” cup to draw or write on. On the this final dive of the cruise, everybody put their decorated cups into net bags that were clipped onto Alvin. When Alvin descended, the tremendous pressure on the seafloor squashed the cups to a fraction of their original size. There is even a joke among the Alvin crew that on the last dive of a cruise, they must put extra weights on Alvin to compensate for all of the Styrofoam cups that the scientists attach. Today, there were three net bags of cups, so everyone had a souvenir to take home.

A special event took place during today’s dive. The people in Alvin placed a hand-blown glass “planet” next to one of the hydrothermal vents. The planet had been made by artist Josh Simpson. Dan Fornari had met Josh 20 years ago when Dan was in graduate school and Josh was starting his career as a glass-blower. Josh's planets reflect his view of Earth’s beauty and how we are blessed with a wondrous living environment that as far as we know is unique in the known universe.

Josh lives in the hills of western Massachusetts. He began making “planets"” in 1979 after inviting 8th graders from schools in his area to his studio to watch him blow glass. For several months, he spent Wednesday afternoons with a new group of kids and discovered that marbles and other glass spheres were something that they could relate to. Cat’s eyes, swirls, and trapped air bubbles were challenging to make, but the results fascinated kids and adults alike. His “planets” evolved from those early concepts. They are now sold in craft and museum shops throughout the US and abroad. For the past five years, Dan has been seeding the Mid-Ocean Ridge and hydrothermal vents in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean with Josh's “planets.” Josh thinks of them as artifacts that get reincorporated into the Earth and left for future generations to find, like the glass ampoules found in the Pharaohs’ tombs in Egypt.

The scientific work was beginning to wind down. The scientists were busy caring for their cultures, cleaning and packing their equipment, cataloging their biological specimens, and writing their reports of the dives and their preliminary results. Anna-Louise and Jane let us look through their microscope at the fantastic starbursts and long strings of tiny microorganisms growing on their culture slides. Some of the microorganisms wiggled around as the light of the microscope heated the slide.

The crew also kept busy. Because it was the last dive, they had to recover the three transponders that Alvin had used to navigate along the seafloor. Once the sub reached its last sampling spot, the person on the ship who was keeping track of Alvin sent an acoustic command, a series of beeps and squeaks, telling the transponder to release from its anchor. About an hour after sending the signal, the first transponder popped onto the smooth surface of the Sea of Cortez. The Atlantis crew hauled them onboard with a grappling hook. Because the ship’s crew needed to test the emergency rescue boat, they drove the boat out to recover the second transponder.

Finally, BLee called up to say that they had finished their work and that the “Weights are away,” meaning they had released Alvin’s weights and the sub was now surfacing. The recovery went smoothly on a sea that was almost flat calm. Then Atlantis turned to the southeast, cranked up the speed to 12 knots, and headed for Manzanillo, Mexico.

Dive Summary
On Bottom: 0802
Off Bottom: 1405
Maximum Depth: 2005 meters

Don and Dorothee deployed a marker at Rebecca’s Roost vent so that the next scientists who come to this vent can identify where previous samples had come from. They then took core samples, “Sipper” samples, and water samples. They also did some Electrochemical Analyzer profiles of the hot vents, cooler regions of the sulfide structure, and sediments, and collected a sulfide sample. They then moved northwest to Kristin's Summit vent where they placed the glass “planet” and sampled another sulfide structure.

They took a water sample of 300°C fluid using a titanium sampling bottle. They will analyze this fluid back on shore to determine its chemical composition. Unlike the bottle the scientists used yesterday, today's sample bottle cannot keep the gases from escaping. On the seafloor, the gases in the bottle are under almost 200 atmospheres of pressure. As the sub surfaces and the pressure decreases, the gases expand and escape. The gas-tight bottle they used yesterday prevents the gases from escaping, so scientists can measure the kinds of gases dissolved in the fluids.

After the sub resurfaced, the Alvin crew scrubbed it down with soapy water then rinsed it with freshwater. Now begins the task of preparing for the next series of dives that starts on January 27. There will be a new group of scientists, new research objectives, and more discoveries to be made on the ocean floor.