November 3, 1995
Location: On Station 61 38' south 54 53' west
Deploying equipment for detecting hydrothermal vents in Bransfield Straight.
We spent most of the night doing Sea Beam surveys of the Bransfield straight area. The
geophysicists on board were excited to find a number of unique ridge features that had
not been mapped before. Each day of mapping adds valuable information to the team's
data base. From this new data, new specific targets for testing for hydrothermal vents
are being chosen.
On the hydrothermal vent scene, the researchers are positive about their initial results.
They have finally gotten all of their equipment and electronics working properly and have
tweaked things to get the best possible data. In the early samples, levels of manganese
were higher that average for normal sea water indicating that some source of
hydrothermal activity is in the area. The challenge now is to identify a search strategy
that will enable the scientists to locate the precise location of a hydrothermal plume.
We have a deep submersible camera on board in the event that we do identify
chemically one of the hydrothermal vents. It would be a rare photo opportunity if we
could find one of these vents.
The seas were a bit rougher than the past few nights. We had winds of 30 knots, which
blew up some pretty good swells. We were going into the wind most of the night doing
Sea beam survey, so the boat was pitching rather than rolling. It took a little time to get
the stomach used to the new motion, but everyone made it through the night free of any
I have been checking with the bridge every day asking them about whether they had
sighted any wildlife. Yesterday they saw a couple of whales in the distance, and about
20 or so penguins. The dominant wildlife are small birds which flock near the ship. As
we move farther south and west to meet the Polar Duke we should see more animals.
The ice bergs have been spectacular. Their colors range from white to a brilliant blue. I
have seen bergs of all shapes and size. Some are like huge cathedrals, others like
smooth floating landing fields. I spend about an hour each day just scanning the horizon
looking for there changing shape. I saw one today in the distance which had a blow hole
which allowed waves to form spouts which shot columns of water like fountains nearly
100 feet into the air.