Friday, May 1, 2015

Rough Seas Ahead

Despite the best planning, problems arise while at sea. The ship can have a malfunction, Jason needs to be repaired, scientists forget an important chemical back home in the lab. These are problems that we can usually fix or work around to get the job done and continue with our exploration of the Lau Basin. Unfortunately, one factor that we cannot plan for and have no control over is the weather at sea. Our ship, the R/V Roger Revelle has no problem in rough seas, however the ROV Jason II needs relatively calm seas to be safely launched and recovered. This is because Jason must be craned from the side of the ship and high wind and waves will make the ROV swing on the crane, which is dangerous because Jason weighs over 4000 kg out of the water which is about three times heavier than an average automobile. 
Rough seas prevent Jason from diving

Weather conditions such as wave height are monitored in the computer lab.
We are currently experiencing 20 knot winds and an average wave height of 3.5 meters. The weather forecast calls for more wind in the next couple of days so our dives are likely to be on hold for at least that long. Luckily we have lots of good samples from ABE and Mariner Vent Sites and we are still busy at work measuring the water chemistry and grow microorganisms from these samples. There is always plenty to do when out at sea, even when Jason is sitting on the deck.

Contributed by Rick Davis

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