21 November, 1995

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 future.

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 Zealand.

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 made.

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