Friday, September 12, 2014

R/V Endeavor Cruise Summary

September 12, 2014

It’s a beautiful, sunny day in North Kingstown, RI and the R/V Endeavor bustled with activity as we made the final preparations for our 38-hour transit to Cape Hatteras.  The past two days have been a blur of science meetings, last minute purchases and preparations, and forced suppression of my excitement to be onboard another research cruise. I now stand on the observation deck above the bridge, calmed by the brisk sea breeze rushing through my hair, ready for the tasks required of me in the month to come.

The R/V Endeavor at dock from astern. The OBSs have been loaded onto the fantail. (Photo Credit: Dylan Meyer)
Initial science party meeting while still at the dock. (Photo Credit: Dylan Meyer)
On the observation deck after getting under way. (Photo Credit: Jennifer Harding)
Okay, enough of the fluffy mumbo-jumbo. Let’s get to the good stuff. For those of you who haven’t yet read through the information on the Eastern North American Margin Community Seismic Experiment (ENAM CSE), may we never have to write out that acronym in full again, here’s a summary of our research goals on the R/V Endeavor. Over the next 32 days at sea (or less, if things go well), we have four main tasks:

          -    Perform a survey of the seafloor near three drop sites that are within an essential fish habitat - habitat area of particular concern (EFH-HAPC) off Cape Hatteras to assure proper placement of our equipment.
          -    Test the acoustic release mechanisms for the Ocean Bottom Seismometer (OBS) devices from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), to assure that we can release the OBSs from the seafloor during the recovery process.
          -    Deploy and recover each of the 47 OBSs twice along the four multi-channel seismic (MCS) lines that will be shot by the R/V Langseth.
          -    Perform all the above operations in an efficient and safe manner.

The figure below shows the deployment stations for each of the OBSs and the MCS lines that will be run on the R/V Langseth after deployment.

Bathymetric/topographic map of the region around Cape Hatteras with MCS lines drawn in blue and OBS deployment stations as pink dots
The expanse of this experiment is absolutely incredible, and I highly suggest that you visit the “About” portion of this blog site as well as the GeoPrisms website:

for additional information on the broader scientific goals of the ENAM CSE as well as specifics about the other branches of the experimental plan (MCS array, terrestrial seismic, long-period OBS).

Our scientific party consists of twelve people (2 research scientists, 6 graduate students, and 4 OBS technicians) from institutions spread across the US:

Harm van Avendonk – UT Austin Institute for Geophysics      Research Scientist
Brandon Dugan – Rice University Dept. of Earth Science        Research Scientist
Afshin Aghayan – Oklahoma State University                          Graduate Student
Jennifer Harding – UT Austin Institute for Geophysics            Graduate Student
Pamela Moyer – University of New Hampshire                        Graduate Student
Kathryn Volk – University of Michigan                                     Graduate Student
Dylan Meyer – UT Austin Institute for Geophysics                  Graduate Student
Gary Linkevich – Rice University Dept. of Earth Science        Graduate Student
Ernie Aaron – Scripps Institute of Oceanography                      OBS Technician
Peter Lemmond – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute           OBS Technician
Mark Gibaud – Scripps Institute of Oceanography                    OBS Technician
Dave Dubois – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute                OBS Technician

Research scientists and graduate students of the scientific party aboard the R/V Endeavor. From left to right - Pamela Moyer, Jennifer Harding, Afshin Aghayan, Dylan Meyer, Kathryn Volk, Brandon Dugan, Harm van Avendonk, and Gary Linkevich. (Photo Credit: Gary Linkevich)
 The scientific party (partial group photo above), assisted by the magnificent crew of the R/V Endeavor, will hopefully start our OBS deployment by Sept. 16th on lines 2 and 3, completing enough of the deployments on Line 2 such that the R/V Langseth can begin shooting as soon as they are on station and their equipment is deployed. From that point, we will recover all the OBSs and redeploy them along lines 1, 4a, and 4b in time for the R/V Langseth to begin shooting those MCS lines sometime on Sept. 30th. The OBSs will then be recovered and the R/V Endeavour will steam back to Quonset Point, arriving some time on or before Oct. 13th (knock on wood).

Before any science could commence, however, we all participated in a mandatory safety lecture and ship orientation. We tried out the “Gumby” Immersion Suits (pictured below), learned the essential emergency procedures, and were introduced to the myriad of safety equipment available on the R/V Endeavor. I have no doubts that the University of Rhode Island has provided us with a superbly safe working and living environment.

Testing out the "Gumby" suits during the safety orientation after getting under way. (Photo Credit: Gary Linkevich)
We’ve started our 12-hours on/off shift schedule now and I can already start to feel people falling into a routine. As we steam ahead with the wind from astern and following seas, the scientists on watch make preparations, calculations, and estimations aimed at improving our efficiency, while those off watch read, rest, and relax in anticipation of their next watch. The sun is shining, the seas are calm, and everyone is excited to get to work.

Till next time,
Dylan Meyer aboard the R/V Endeavor

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