Friday, July 9, 2010

Advisor down!

To the vents, that is. Dive 1 completed yesterday, and we got science rolling full steam here.
Pete went on the dive with a first-timer from Ray's group, taking the mass spec and getting some collections for us, and putting out some camera equipment for Ray.

And now for a little insider baseball primer on how cruises work:
***Spoiler Alert! If you want to be surprised on your first research cruise, don't read ahead!!!***

Each cruise on a ship this large is usually made up of a number of labs each given an alloted number of dives to locations that are within 1 night's steam of each other. This way, the Atlantis doesn't have to burn through time and fuel to get back to port to exchange groups for 3 or 4 or 6 days at sea. This works to the advantage of some who do time series out here - like with two-week deployments, or on-board experiments with projects like my worms. Of course, people just out here to toss a rig down with the sub, or take a core and head home, end up twiddling thumbs, watching movies, helping others, or if they're really productive- writing manuscripts out here. We are currently out here with 3 PI's, and a couple of other people who came along because there was space. When you get a cruise spot without being tied to one of the main projects, its called a cruise of opportunity - and its a common courtesy offered between many scientists as a way to get preliminary data for future grants and cruises, or pick something up that was dropped off on a previous cruise.

When you're out at sea, there's some wrangling to figure out who gets dive priority - usually the PI with the most dives gets to set the schedule, but there's lots of give and take. For our particular project, Ray Lee and my advisor Pete Girguis are co-PIs. Thus, on the alvin dives - with two science spots, its almost always been one from each of our groups that goes down, and we split the particular dive priorities. Sometimes its a Lee lead dive - which means his projects come first, and sometimes its a Girguis priority dive. Either way, we both get some stuff done, but the site may favor one group's projects or the other.

This year we've got 8 dives, and the other PIs combined have 6. This means that 6 days, I can expect nothing, 4 days i can hope for worms, and 4 days i can mostly expect them. Yesterday was a Lee priority dive, which meant that we dove on a site that was best for his projects. Unfortunately, the site wasn't optimal to get my sulfur worms, but they did recover LOTS of palm worms. This is a closely related but cooler temperature species. Even within the group, there are priority lists of course. Today, Charles is diving with the mass spec, which had some failures last dive, and that will take precedence. We're hopeful that we'll get sulfur worms, but this location may not be optimal for them. Luckily, we'll be heading to a better sampling area tomorrow, so I can try for them again tomorrow.

There were a lot of problems getting the palm worms up and running, but I have them up in my system now. (I'll explain what my system is on another post). This feat is due in great part to the help I got from nearly the whole lab at one point or another - Thanks to Pete, Heather, Adrienne, Charles, and Melissa! The worms are alive - for the moment - thanks to you all!

Well that's about it, gotta get to the samplin' now. Also, to the plotting about the shenanigans we will plan for Charles' first dive hazing this afternoon.


PS- There are rumors i might dive soon, but i don't want to jinx it by pinning down a date...

PPS- Pictures will be added throughout the day


  1. Let us know how long the worms last, and what tortures you enact upon them. By now I wouldn't be surprised if they see Alvin coming and hide. Glad to hear you got palm worms at least. Did you manage to dive for some sulfer worms? It's been a week, you better have

    how is the weather holding up?

    When you get a spare moment from twiddling thumbs, watching movies, and writing manuscripts please post some pictures!

    be safe and have fun~

  2. noticed a typo, meant "sulfur"