1 December, 1995

December 1, 1995

Location: 57 50í South Latitude x 162 38í West Longitude


It is a strange prospect for someone who has lived most of their life in Wisconsin to be able to rationalize that going north will bring warmer temperatures. But, as each day passes, the temperatures increase slowly as we move closer to New Zealand. This is late spring time here in the southern hemisphere. The daytime high was over 40 degrees now on the ship. We can expect temperatures in the 60ís and 70ís when we reach New Zealand.

There is a frenzy to create some closure for the cruise. Every core, every ZAPS drop, every bit of data and map that has been collected and produced has to be logged and accounted for. We have made over 100 maps of the seafloor alone. These will all have to be packed and all to the maps shipped to Texas. Every bit of data that has been stored on the computers has to be copied so that it can be analyzed back at the scientistís university. In the case of the geophysicists, the final amount of computer data will be measured in tens of gigabytes and nearly one hundred backup tapes. We generated almost a gigabyte of data a day when we were surveying and looking for vents in the Bransfield Strait.

Each of us is responsible for putting together a explanation for the final cruise report. The cruise report will be a final log of all the science that was conducted on this research expedition. Each individual section which is prepared will discuss the techniques used during the parcticular cruise investigation that is documented. An overview of the data collected must also be included, and summary of how the process could be improved on future cruises must also be included in each individual report. It is an enormous undertaking that is coordinated by the two head scientists. Dr. Lawver from Texas has the final responsibility for submitting the cruise report when it is completed.

Most of the report writers are working on final drafts. They are asking their colleagues to help make corrections and offer suggestions for improvements. Since they know that these reports will be available to scientists on future cruises, their is an effort to be as complete and accurate as possible.

I am working on a section of the cruise report as well. I will be annotating the process of preserving the biological sampled collected during the dredges. I have been struggling a bit, but feel confident that I should complete it soon. It is very important that the reports be written in such a manner that they can be easily referenced by other scientists and provide both procedures used and the effectiveness of those procedures. It is a bit like writing a recipe for a cookbook and a critical description of the flavor of the food prepared at the same time.

Night has officially returned to the Palmer. The midnight until 8:00 AM watch is again truly the night watch. It was a cloudy night, so once again, the evening celestial spectical was not visible. I look forward to our first clear night for some stargazing. I can only imagine what the night sky will be like on the open ocean. With no city light pollution the heavens should be glorious.

There are so many things yet to see and do on this cruise. The stars, endless sunsets, glorious sunrises and the rolling seas are still waiting to be watched. I feel like I have to make the most of each day. I feel a rush, a kind of panic that I will somehow miss some experience or opportunity on the last days of this cruise unless I am vigilant. I need to change my perspective I think. New Zealand marks the end of my solitary journey to Antarctica. It also stands at the beginning of years of shared stories and memories.

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