29 November, 1995

November 29, 1995

Location: 61 33 South Latitude x 147 30 West Longitude


We survived yet another time change, another 25 hour day. The science marches on as the data continues to come in as we map the sea floor on our route using the multi beam sonar. The data collected has been unusual, and unexpected. The amount of variation in the sea floor here is dramatic in comparison to the flat level planes of just a few days ago. Unlike yesterday, we are not seeing ridges or sea mounts, but what looks like rolling hills or dunes along the sea floor.

It is exciting to listen to the geophysicists discuss potential explanations for these features. Science is often a combination of discussion and persuasion. Discussion is about the validity and importance of the data. The persuasion part is using the data to substantiate and support a theory to explain the what the data means. I try to make sense of everything that is going on, but some times the focus of the discussion is so directed that my level of expertise is surpassed. Some times it is as though the scientists are speaking a different language, and I am just picking up bits and pieces of the overall conversation. This is not a bad thing. I am thankful that I have been included in the process, and this sink or swim approach has really helped me to focus my questions so that I truly understand the science that has been done on the ship.

We are approaching the Mid Pacific Ridge. This fracture zone is associated with the convergence of two tectonic plates. Although we will not have time to do a thorough survey of this fracture zone, the geophysicists are looking forward to collecting as much data about this area as possible. This area has not been extensively surveyed, so any new data will provide much needed information about the plate boundaries. Something new is always seems to be just ahead.

The seas were the roughest that they have been in days. As I tried to sleep, the ship creaked and groaned like an old haunted house. I heard squeaks, and noises that I had never heard before on this ship. It was a strange moaning serenade as the ship pounded through the waves. I was tossed in my bunk up and down and side to side. The motion was not enough to launch me from my bed, but it was enough to make sleeping a challenge. Fortunately this lasted only a few hours, and the waves settled down. A rise in the air pressure and a reduction in the speed of the winds accompanied the decrease in the waves.

We had almost two hours of real darkness last night, as we left the constant days near the Antarctic circle behind. It was a bit unnerving to see the darkness again. There was no sun merely resting on the horizon. The sun had left us completely. The night seems darker than I remember. Maybe it is the sea. Maybe it is just unfamiliarity.

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