Busy Days at Hydrate Ridge and Oregon Offshore

Friday, August 29, 2014
Working on Offshore Shallow Profiler
Loading Cables Onto ROCLS Hydrate Ridge

Captain Eric Haroldson of the R/V Thompson oversees loading of a cable spool in preparation for installation at Southern Hydrate Ridge by the ROV ROPOS. Photo Credit: Mitch Elend, University of Washington, V14.

Changing Face of Enstein's Grotto

Einstein's Grotto changes rapidly over hours to days. Revisitation of the active seep site today showed that a large sedimentary protrusion at the vent opening had desintegrated and a large and vigorous bubble plume was exiting the orifice.Photo credit: NSF-OOI/UW/CSSF; Dive R1761; V14.  

The VISIONS '14 team of ship's crew, engineers, scientists, and ROPOS folks have been very busy the past 24 hrs. During this time, we saw the complete installation of all three extension cables at the summit of Southern Hydrate Ridge. These will be connected to short-period seismometers during follow-on dives. The seismometers will provide real-time earthquake data on seismic events underneath the methane hydrate deposit and also more distant events.

Very early this morning, ROPOS did a "fly by" of Einstein's Grotto, an active seep site we have been visiting since 2010. This site will be instrumented with a cabled digital still camera, mass spectrometer, flow meters, fluid samplers and an ADCP (Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler) later this Leg. This active seep continues to astound us with profound changes in its morphology, as well as its venting characteristics. Over a week's period we have seen it go from no visible venting to huge bursts of methane bubbles that rise far into the water column. Sediment debris distributed around the ever changing orifice attests to these explosive events.

In the early morning, the R/V Thompson transited to the EA Oregon Offshore site in preparation for installation of the Instrument Platform and Shallow Profiler assembly onto the 197-m-deep platform at the two-legged mooring at this site. Work here is a partnership among the OOI University of Washington Team and Oregon State University. For two days now, the science and engineering team has worked nearly round the clock conducting the final assembly of these two systems, conducting instrument and final integration tests. While this work was proceeding, ROPOS dove to the seafloor on Dive R1762 to install and connect an extension cable to the two-legged mooring and junction box at this site, which will provide power and communication capabilities when the system is fully installed. Tonight and into the wee morning hours will see installation of the Instrument Platform onto the main mooring platform. Instruments on the platform include a zooplankton sonar, digital-still camera, pH and CO2 sensors, and a CTD-dissolved-oxygen sensor. This will be another first for oceanography.