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partlycloudy weather
Partly Cloudy
79°F (26.1°C)
Latitude: 25 deg 19.01’S
Longitude: 70 deg 02.2’E
Wind Direction: ESE
Wind Speed: 15 Knots
Sea State 3-4
Swell(s) Height: 7-9 Foot
Sea Temperature: 79°F (26.1°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1015.5 MB Visibility: 18+ Nautical Miles

what's to eat today?

Daily Update: Rocks and repairs
April 5, 2001
By Amy Nevala

Sidelined with a broken thruster, ROV Jason returned to the ship after a night of scouting the black smoker chimneys we found yesterday. Sampling the rugged terrain around the chimneys requires maximum maneuverability with Jason.

The DSOG team worked since 4:30 this morning on the repairs so tonight Jason can again descend two and a half miles to continue hydrothermal vent exploration. Also heading to the bottom is the elevator, a platform loaded with 100 pounds of sampling equipment, water bottles and blue coolers to stow animals.

Over the next few days, we will maneuver Jason to slurp shrimp, scoop mussels and even catch crabs in fish-baited traps. Then the elevator will lift them to the surface.

Last night, we had a good look at the chimneys we are exploring, an area covering about half the size of a football field.

On the television monitors, five groups of black smoker chimneys were spotted swarming with thousands of busy shrimp, like bees on a hive. Four species of anemones, several snails and an occasional crab passed before Jason’s cameras. Mussels around the smokers’ bases were “well-camouflaged by their brown shells,” wrote biologist Cindy Van Dover in a biological description she posted this morning in the ship’s main lab.

Using Jason’s temperature probe, Cindy and others on the night watch found fluids with temperatures as high as 365°C, or 689°F, flowing from the hydrothermal chimneys.

That’s hot - about twice as hot as the temperature you would set to bake bread.

Today while the DSOG team repaired Jason, geologists began dredging the slopes around the site to collect samples of the chimneys’ volcanic rock foundation. They dredge by dragging a large chain-link bag from the ship to scoop anything in its way.

The rocks they collect help the scientists begin to paint a picture of the sea floor environment.

“Imagine being in a spaceship and dropping a garbage can down to Earth. You drag it along and catch a window frame, a church steeple and a desk. From that you have to determine what Earth is like,” said geochemist Susan Humphris.

The football-sized rocks Susan collected were all old volcanic rocks, more than 10,000 years of age. Their orange “rusty” surfaces gave away their age.

Animal, rock and water collecting and sampling will take up most of the next few days, with much to be learned about this fascinating landscape far beneath the ship.

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