5 February, 2004

McMurdo Sound has becoming very familiar to us. We look forward to seeing Mount Erebus, and Mount Discovery. They serve as visual markers that we are in some sense "home". Home is a place where you are comfortable, you know your way around and there is a pattern to the day. The pace of our day is set by the change between shifts on watch, looking forward to meal time and time writing emails and taking pictures.

I started watch to the news of a late night dredge. This was Dredge #4 for the cruise. The dredge was taken in an area of a suspected seamount at a depth of about 170 meter (530 feet). The dredge contained less than a dozen rocks. Sam Mukasa washed each rock and appears hopeful that there will be some that will be of interest in his geochemistry studies. There was very little mud again in this dredge. Long armed brittle starts and large sponges and their feathery spicules were the organisms of the day caught in the dredge. The people on the night watch were great. Since I was sleeping during the dredge, they collected all the organisms and photographed them in the hydro lab for me, so that I could continue the record of life caught in each dredge.

We spent the rest of the morning mutlibeaming around Beaufort Island. We observed a number of large magnetic spikes that are most likely associated with rock that contains a high concentration of Iron atoms that were magnetized in the earth's magnetic field as the rock cooled. The water around Beaufort Island is less than 250 meters. Ice and Begs have a tendency to pile up on the windward side of the island. We have had favorable winds lately and are able to complete regions of the seafloor maps that had been undoable previously due to large bergs and sea ice.

By early morning, we were ready to start doing seismic again. At 9:00 AM the marine techs began getting the multichannel streamer and six GI air guns ready to deploy. The scientists set the first shot line, and the ship traveled to the start point. It had been a few days since we had last done seismic, so each of the guns needed to be checked. The air compressor that power s the guns needed to be brought up to 2000 psi of pressure, and the firing mechanism for each gun needed to be checked. By 11:00 AM we had six guns and the multichannel streamer in the water. We had to make a small extra loop to catch the start of the shot line to make sure that we had enough time to make sure the guns were in order.

The tentative schedule calls for five days of seismic work to the area north of Franklin Island and B15A. We will be heading out into the open water of the Ross Sea. The weather so far has been incredibly nice. The weather forecasts call for stormy weather. We will have to see what the next four days bring.

I received copies of emails sent to Stuart Henrys today. Stuart is a geophysicist from New Zealand, and he has been corresponding with other New Zealand scientists to try and locate someone who is doing work on lichens and mosses and also would be interested in the mummified remains of a large sea mammal that we found on Franklin Island. Stuart had sent digital photos of the mammal to the scientist. Their initial identification is that the animal is a giant elephant seal. Tests would have to be done to determine the how long the remains have been on the Island. Part of the seal mummy is buried under rocks cascading from the slopes above. They are looking into having a scientist go to Franklin Island to get some samples of the mummy before winter.

It is very exciting to see the cooperation between scientists working in different areas. There is a real camaraderie that enhances the science that is done by everyone, and brings opportunity to learn things that might have gone unknown without the cooperation.

Open water as we head north of Franklin Island.

The bank of electronics equipment that controls the seismic guns and collects data from the seismic streamer.

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