30 November, 1995

November 30, 1995

Location: 59 59í South Latitude x 154 20í West Longitude


We crossed the Mid Pacific Ridge today at about 12:00 pm. This was the highlight of the week for the Geophysicists from Texas. It was like a geological grand opening, as they watched the multibeam sonar plotter produce maps of the sea floor near the ridge. The ridge appeared as a high linear crest. On either side, the seafloor sloped away. This was the location where the two pacific tectonic plates meet. The pressure of the plates movements is resolved by twisting and bending the sea floor to produce mountains and ridges. The ridges and sea mounts that we have been locating over the last few days are evidence of these great forces at work.

The magnetometer registered an major magnetic anomaly at the ridge zone. The movement of the plates forces the crust below to liquefy, creating an area of molten rock. As this molten rock cools into new crust, the iron is magnetized by the earthís magnetic field. Since the new crust is near to the surface, it has a much stronger magnetic pull that the crust around it. This area of higher magnetism is called a magnetic anomaly.

The anticipation of events like reaching the Mid Pacific ridge help make each day exciting from the scientific perspective. We are on the final leg of our cruise and have less than 1500 miles to go. If the weather remains clear, that means we have six or seven days until we reach New Zealand.

Most of the crew and science parties have settled into a daytime routine. Those of us who are on the night watch sometimes can feel a little out of touch with the what happens during the day time on the ship. This evening was a time for everyone to get together. We planned a movie night. There was plenty of pop and pop corn for everyone. We watched the ìPrincess Brideî. It was good to have everyone together. The stresses and concerns of everyoneís duties could be set aside for a few hours. It was a nice time to relax and enjoy one another's company and laughter.

The sun actually set, giving us over three hours of night. We finally traveled far enough north so that the sunís daily cycle has returned. It is wonderful to witness a true sunrise and sunset again. The sky has never seemed bluer than this morning as the sunrise christened a lovely clear day. Wisps of clouds were a minor intrusion on the endless blue sky. As the day continued, thicker banks of clouds moved up from on the horizon. The winds have been calm, and the waves moderate, making for a quite ride on the ship.

We had another time change today. They come so frequently now that it is hard to keep track. Our clocks are getting a good workout as we set and reset the times. Everyone takes the changes in stride. When they come in the middle of the day, that means a longer time between meals. The only ones that grumble are our stomachs. The time changes mean an extra hour of sleep for most, but it also means an extra hour of watch for some unlucky watch standers.

It has been a calm and peaceful day. Thoughts are obviously changing among the science staffs and crew to going home. Talk is of travel plans in New Zealand, and getting home for the holidays are common. Each of us has left loved ones behind to parcticipate in this cruise. Sometimes it is difficult to not have them in your thoughts constantly. There are times when you wish that those special people in your lives were here to share things with you.

Being at sea is both lonely and exhilarating. It is sometimes hard to balance the myriad of feeling that you have each day. You have to find a way to bring some sense of harmony between your work and your feelings. This is a once in a lifetime trip for all of us in many ways. Many of the crew, support staff, and science parties will return to Antarctica, but the ever changing face of the Antarctic will make their next visit different and unique.

Antarctica is like no other place that I have ever been. Nature takes the center stage, and people are resigned to be spectators. It will forever be a place that calls to the adventurer and scientist, but its secrets will not be easily given up.


Stone Prairie: Thank you Mark, and first grade for the nice message. Please send any questions that you may have.

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