Sailing off on the final leg!

Tuesday August 27, 2019

The science crew on the AACSE arrived to Kodiak, AK on Sunday August 25th to prepare for departure. The chief scientists, Peter Haeussler and Geoff Abers, are spotted here in the first image, just above a beach in front of the RV Marcus Langseth eager to climb aboard. The flying object in the background that looks like a helicopter (which there were many of on the coast guard base that we were docked at) is actually a dragonfly in the foreground. Zooming in on the image is encouraged.

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The second image shows Geoff and Peter in the science lab on the Langseth, planning the early parts of our journey. The maps they are looking at here show where high resolution multibeam bathymetry has been collected in the AACSE footprint. One of the main goals of this leg is to fill in any gaps of where high-resolution data exists in order to increase our knowledge of along-strike variability in the incoming Pacific plate.

On Sunday evening after all of the apply to sail participants arrived (Cong, Zhenyang, Em, Heather, Igor, and Ginevra) we all joined an AACSE land-seismometer-retrieval group that has been spending the last few weeks on Kodiak Island for a fish dinner. The team (Susan, Michael and Dan) have acquired several batteries and bear boxes throughout their retrieval that are too expensive to ship home. They managed to strike a trade with some local community members, exchanging some of this equipment for fresh salmon and halibut! We are grateful for this Alaska experience, and that bear-proof material is a hot commodity here in the Alaska subduction zone forearc.

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We spent the first day gearing up and learning how to navigate the labyrinth of a ship. We have found all of the shortcuts between the seismic lab and everywhere else, particularly the OBS lab, deck, galley, and ping pong arena. Here is a photo of the students (with Zhenyang behind the camera) on the marine mammal observation deck. There were many otters to be seen as we stood and had one of our first meetings of the cruise, sailing towards open water.

We have acquired 3 OBSs just this Tuesday! With another one that we will likely approach at 10PM tonight. We communicated with the first OBS around 2AM this morning. It is a crazy experience talking to an instrument that has been 4 kilometers below the sea surface for 14 months. Hearing back from WD70 was a great start or end to the day (depending on watch hours). Here are the Woods Hole OBS technicians reeling the instrument in.

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We reached the next site around 7AM, a little more light was available for this one. Here we are fishing WD48 out!

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The third OBS of the day landed on deck around 2:30 PM, at a cruising average rise time between the seafloor and sea-surface of 32 meters per minute. Jenny, Todd, and Tim can be seen guiding WS72 onto the ship. This instrument is one of several in the array that is equipped with an additional strong motion accelerometer. We are excited to have it aboard!

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So far the seas have been smooth, the sun has been out, everyone on board is kind and excited, and the instruments are returning to deck as planned. Most of us are a bit too seasick to engage in ping pong just yet, but are in high spirits and will begin training for the coveted tournament title in the upcoming days. Cheers!

Ginevra Moore – AACSE apply to sail participant; graduate student at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA.

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