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.