Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Importance of Coffee

Winds are meant to ease over the next day or so... and hopefully we'll get to dive again. In the meantime we have time for a cup of coffee. 
Jeff and Sean's morning Jo'
Jeff and Sean take their coffee very seriously. Somewhere packed among the crates of scientific equipment is an espresso machine. By the time we leave Auckland, ten bags of coffee beans are set to accompany us. We have also managed to pick up a few New Zealand-themed espresso cups, rainbow-colored sheep and kiwis. Should the espresso machine break due to some unforeseen tragedy, a rarely used French press stands ready to fill the gap.
Sean jokes about how they made sure to calibrate the thermocouple (a fancy thermometer) on the espresso machine before leaving Jeff's lab in Woods Hole. Thermocouples are something close to Jeff and Sean's scientific work as well, as is the handling of hot, pressurized fluids. Besides the espresso machine, the center-point of their laboratory is a set of isobaric gas-tight fluid samplers (IGTs) with thermocouples attached to the nozzles . These highly specialized and custom-built pieces of equipment are able to collect hydrothermal fluids at the bottom of the ocean and return them, at seafloor pressure, to the surface. Keeping the fluid pressurized is essential for measuring dissolved gases that are an important part of the fluid’s chemistry. However, releasing these fluids without losing the gases and measuring them accurately enough to be useful is also tricky, and requires an elaborate, mobile chemical laboratory. It is also important to keep the IGTs well serviced in order for them to function properly. Like a two-man pit crew, Jeff and Sean routinely assemble and disassemble the equipment. With IGTs going in and fluid samples coming out of the water at all times of day, the espresso machine sure gets a workout.   Contributed Guy Evans

Jeff and Sean’s collection of espresso cups (upper right) and coffee beans (lower left). IGT samplers 5 and 6 ready for servicing (above center) and being serviced (right).

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