November 21, 1995
Location: Departing to the west from the Bransfield Strait
It was a busy evening for the scientist from OSU as they collected data
near Deception Island. Deception would be the last new location that they
would investigate in Bransfield Strait. From midnight until about 2:00 AM
the team used the ZAPS sled and the Rosette to collect information about
the chemistry of the water near the Island. A Zodiac was also deployed
with a few members of the OSU team to collect water samples away from the
ship as reference samples.
The decision was made to return to the split volcano ridge investigated
the night before to collect a few more samples. On the way, a core sample
of a flat basin near the ridge was taken. Only about three feet of
sediment was collected in the corer. The scientists were not sure whether
this represented the actual depth of the sediments in the area or if the
corer failed to penetrate into the sediments farther for some other
reason. As they continue their analysis of the core samples, a possible
reason for the shortness of the core will hopeful arise from their data.
It was an unusually calm and bright morning. I awoke at 4:30 AM, not
quite sure why I could not sleep. The sun was bright and full out of my
porthole window. I tried a little reading, and rolled around in my bed
until about 6:45, when Larry Lawver, the chief scientist from Texas,
called to make sure that I got up to see the sunrise. Had called just
about everyone, and indeed it was worth the effort.
I put on the clothes that I had worn the day before, checked myself in
the mirror to make sure I would not frighten anyone, grabbed my camera and
headed to the Bridge to see what was happening. It is five flights of
stairs from the deck that my bunk is on to the bridge. Usually I have to
fight to keep my balance as I get closer to the bridge because the motion
of the waves is accentuated the higher you go above the water. Today
there was no motion.
When I reached the bridge, I was overcome by the panorama from the
bridge. In all directions, the morning sky was clear. Half hearted
efforts at clouds looked like white smudges on the blue sky. The sky
gently touched and mingled with the sea on the horizon creating a blending
of blues like when an artist mixes colors on their palette. Huge tabular
bergs floated on the surface, motionless, reflecting the light of the sun
onto the sea's surface. The sea was dazzling like a diamond reflecting
light in all directions.
This display of the sun's handy work would have been enough to make the
morning memorable, but directly in front of the bow, Livingston Island was
illuminated by the sun's morning beckons. The island appeared to have
been posed for photographs. The sun highlighted the black rugged peaks
jutting out from under the blanket of snow. Soft wisps of clouds cast
gentle shadows on the snow field defining drifts and crevasses on its
surface. It seemed that the sun's light was revealing secrets about the
Island to us. Its brilliant rays acting as pointers showing us details
that would have been unseen without the sun's illuminating assistance.
I felt compelled to sit and watch. Although I took photos, in the act
of releasing the shutter, I realized that only in my mind's eye could this
image be truly saved. As I remember the images of that morning, I am
encompassed by the emotions, and sensations that are tied to those images.
The morning was an event, not just a sunrise. It was an occasion that
happens once in a lifetime. It is something that I feel compelled to
share with others, but I know that it is an impossible task to explain how
its memory has subtly change the way I will look at all sunrises in the
We had been stationed at Livingston Island due to a problem with the
sea floor mapping system. Larry wanted to complete the map of this area,
and rather than moving, we sat at station until the problem was corrected.
We continued mapping until noon in the Bransfield Strait. At noon we
began our 3900 mile journey to New Zealand. It was the last day of ZAPS
work, but we will continue to do sea floor mapping all the way to New
The OSU team spent most of the day stowing their larger equipment.
This time of year is noted for its severe storms, so every precaution is
taken so that their equipment will make the final transit without damage.
Even thought their gear has been stowed, the OSU team continues their work
in the lab, analysis data throughout the remainder of the cruise. It is
from the analysis of the data, that real conclusions about the location
and characteristics of hydrothermal vents in Bransfield Straits can be