Notes from the Field

Welcome Aboard the Research Vessel Atlantis, Cruise AT40-03

Welcome the not-so-regular daily blog we're keeping aboard the R/V Atlantis. "We" are 19 members of a science and technical team contributing to a research cruise that's the prelim to drilling by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). Images of seafloor topography and sub-seafloor layering we collect will enable us to choose sites to be drilled by the IODP, using the D/V JOIDES Resolution 2 to 3 years from now. That effort will recover records of Earth history that can be acquired in no other way than by putting out to sea and drilling hundreds of meters into the seafloor at key locations. We expect the sediments brought up from the depths will reveal ocean-atmosphere-biosphere interaction spanning the last 70 million years. The goal will be to improve knowledge of past climate variations and the factors that regulate the flow of deep ocean water that begins in the North Atlantic and circles the globe.

AtlantisAtlantis Image Courtesy of WHOI

 Atlantis Cruise 1Our cruise is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded to researchers at Oregon State and Rutgers Universities. Chief Scientists Mitch Lyle (Oregon) and Greg Mountain (Rutgers) are joined by 9 students and research assistants from 4 Universities (including 4 from Rutgers; see photo), 5 engineers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and 3 marine biologists ensuring our activities cause no harm to protected marine animals. The accompanying map shows our planned track, leaving Bermuda and passing through several survey sites northwards along the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Data collection will end in the southern Labrador Sea where we will turn and head for this vessel's home port (Woods Hole, MA), arriving on July 17. The blog entries that follow will introduce you to the people onboard and describe what work and life are like on an 83.5 m research vessel 1300 km from land. --- Greg Mountain (Rutgers) - CoChief Scientist

Log Entry: 20 June 2018
After a few days of exploring the culture of the native Bermudians, our team set sail on the seismic acquisition cruise (AT40-03) from the port of St. George’s, Bermuda, 14 June, 2018, at 08:30. The first couple days on the ship were a compilation of getting to know the layout of the Atlantis, the other crew members, and most importantly, safety and emergency protocols. The layout of the ship is something that you will only get after getting lost a half a dozen times or more, but as long as you know where the galley is, your room, and how to get to the deck (in that order!), you are in good shape. As days go by, you get the feeling that there are a lot more people on board than you first thought. We will be living, for the next 34 days with 24 crew members and 19 in the science party, all of whom come from all over the country and world, each having a different skill set that has brought him or her to this trip. Being prepared for various emergencies and knowing how to handle them, should they arise, is a priority on the Atlantis, so keeping your eyes and ears open during training is a must. 50 hours after leaving the dock we were approaching our study area and began easing into our work schedule and responsibilities for the duration of the cruise. The work schedule for the 9 watchstanders is four hours on and eight hours off, twice a day, every day. Work responsibilities range from monitoring real time data (seismic, swath bathymetric, and CHIRP) collection, regular log entries, assisting on the deck when needed, and processing seismic and swath bathymetric data. When we are not working sleep seems to be a favored past time, however, eating all the amazing food and snacks is a definite second. There is also ping pong, a library, and a huge entertainment room with a grand assortment of movies and shows. So far we have all made new friends and learned about the various science and non-science backgrounds of our new AT40-03 Family. We are currently collecting data at our first of six survey sites at approximately 33° 47.5' N, 49° 23.7' W and should be here for at least another day before heading to AT40-03 Survey Site 2. ---JN Stanley (Rutgers) - Watchstander