Now that the cruise is wrapping up, we’ve been thinking back on everything we’ve done. We’ve collected an impressive amount of data, so I’ll try to put it in perspective for you. We have produced 300GB of electronic data (including maps, gravity and magnetic data, pictures, and more) and collected about 95 five gallon buckets full of rocks. That’s about 30 beer kegs worth of rocks! We also fully mapped an area of about 42,000 square kilometers. That’s a bit bigger than the area of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined! The picture below is to scale.
I will not be doing my own project on samples or data from the cruise, but I will be helping the students process their samples for geochemistry in our lab at Colgate University. We will be dissolving rock samples in a series of acids and running them on an ICP-mass spectrometer to determine the concentration of trace elements in the rocks. From these data we hope to be able to better determine how the various features we’ve seen are related to each other, and how they correspond to the spreading center and the plume beneath the Galapagos.
Overall it’s been a great trip. We were able to do more dredges than we had initially hoped, and found many interesting features on the sea floor that we still have yet to fully understand. Living on a ship for 5 weeks has also been a fun and interesting experience (after the first few days of sea-sickness anyway).
I also just updated the Instrument page with descriptions of the last three instruments, so check that out too: Instruments Page
As you can see from Gretchen's post, there is no shortage of work to be done. But the cruise represents much more than just a time to collect samples, as least for a junior geologist, such as myself. Taking the seminar to prep for the class gave me a better understanding of geology, as it provided a practical application for what I had learned in Mineralogy and Petrology. Working with dredges taught me how to process rocks, something I had only heard about before. But, most importantly, being a part of this cruise allowed me to witness everything that went into making it, and understanding how complex it is, and how much work was involved from the senior scientists and crew to make this happen. The cruise presented lessons in working together, as well as the necessity of of volunteering when asked. I consider this cruise a formative experience, both as a person learning to work together, and as an aspiring geologist, working with some of the top scientists in the world.
And, of course, there are some people to thank. To my Mom and Dad, for all of the love and support you have given me both during and before this cruise. All of the other scientists, and the crew, thanks for making this cruise a great experience that has gone as well as it has. And finally, thanks to Karen Harpp, to which none of this could be possible. From writing the grant, to establishing all of the logistics for the trip, as well as making me a geology major and inviting me on this trip, Karen has made this incredible trip a reality.
Almost forty days at sea and I’ve learned quite a bit. My bowline tying skills have been honed by the onslaught of dredges the past two weeks; I can now (fairly) confidently understand and interpret sonar and bathymetric maps; I have learned a bit about writing code to produce maps on GMT; but mostly I have learned that the problems we came to the Northern Galapagos to try to sort out are a lot more complex than what I first considered. Most of these problems stem from the central question that has driven the cruise – how is all this unique and confusing volcanism in the Northern Galapagos related to the interaction between the hot spot under the main archipelago, and the spreading center to the north? I’ve become particularly interested in the volcanic lineaments in the western part of our survey area, including the Wolf-Darwin Lineament and the newly-christened Cheerio-Nubbin Lineament (CNL). How do these lineaments related to the hot spot and spreading center, as well as to each other, both structurally and geochemically? What can these relationships tell us about the larger regional processes at work in the Northern Galapagos? I plan on exploring these questions in my research at Woods Hole and Colgate in the coming months with the guidance of Karen, Mark Kurz, and Dan Fornari, and am excited by the prospect of contributing to the understanding of the Northern Galapagos lineaments and presenting my findings later in the school year.
Overall, the cruise has been an amazing experience -- one I'll definitely not forget. Thank you to the trip organizers and advisers, especially Karen, Dan, Dennis, Eric, Allison, Mark, and Chris. Also, thank you to the Melville crew, you guys are awesome.
So, after over a month our time aboard the Melville has drawn to a close. The past 40 days have been a fantastic and unique experience, and even though I’m excited to be getting off the ship, I’m a little sad to have seen them go by so quickly.
We’ve definitely made good use of our time though. As you can see from Gretchen’s post, we’ve compiled detailed bathymetric and sonar maps of a region the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined as well as collected thousands of pounds of rock samples from dredges. Not too shabby.
This coming summer, I’ll be working at Colgate and using the data and samples we’ve collected to develop my senior thesis, due next May. My plan is to investigate the anomalous area east of the transform fault and explore the possibility of “ridge jumps”—in which the spreading ridge changes location, leaving behind tell-tale faulting scars on the sea floor. I was intrigued by this area because it pretty much up-ended everyone’s expectations. Rather than seamount lineaments, like we see to the west of the transform fault, this region is a mosaic of constructional volcanic provinces punctuated by regions of faulting. It’s definitely one of the more complicated areas we’ve looked at, and it’ll be interesting trying to sort it out. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be able to present a preliminary hypothesis about how this unique terrain formed at AGU in California this December.
Besides the impressive collection of data this cruise has given us, it’s also afforded a lot of hands-on opportunities that I can’t imagine having elsewhere. I’ve operated an A-frame, snorkeled with seals, improvised an iron out of a hot plate and hung out in a hot tub heated by the engine-cooling system on deck under an amazingly starry sky. So, I just want to send a big thanks out to the scientists, crew and fellow students who not only made this cruise possible and successful, but also a lot of fun.
As the cruise wraps up I am filled with mixed emotions. I am both sad and excited, sad that I have to leave the ship, but also excited to get back to school and start processing data. I have learned so much these past five weeks and have had such a great time. As the only student who is an environmental science major not a geology major, I came into the trip not really knowing much about the field, but everyone has been so helpful that I have learned a lot, both about mapping and about rocks. I became more comfortable with my mapping skills and had many chances to practice interpreting both multi-beam and side scan data, both of which will help me with my final capstone. We also had a chance to see a wide variety of rocks from our many dredges, 47 to be exact! Chipping glass late into the night will something i'll never forget! While aboard I also finalized my ideas for my senior thesis, I am going to look at a seamount that is located to the southeast of Marchena Island, I chose this seamount because the samples collected from it look like they may have been subaerial at some point. I will look at both the age and chemical make up of the rocks to find out more about this mount, as well as look at how the currents around it affect the kind and amount of wildlife that live there and how this in turn affects local fisheries. I am excited about this topic and can't wait to see the results. I plan on presenting my research at AGU in December with the rest of the undergrads. All in all this cruise has been a very fun learning experience and I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to attend.
My Galapagos adventure is coming to an end today, after more than a month at sea. When looking back on how long I’ve been on this boat it doesn’t seem to feel too long. Coming into the trip I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know what being at sea really meant either. After this past month I’ve grown closer to many people on the boat, making relationships that hopefully with grow further down the road. This trip was a great experience for me to understand what it’s like to study marine geology; this is something that interests me now. Being able to interact with decorated geologist was great, not only did it provide excellent instruction but it also provided me with an insight into what their jobs entail. I admit at times I really wanted to get away from the boat for a bit, but that was merely cause I couldn’t, watching the sea day in and day out gets a little old. The most interesting scientific thing to me, encountered during the trip, has to be the terrain of the seafloor east of the 91 west transform. Before embarking, the current bathymetry showed an area of simple a few large seamounts east of the transform. Our study now shows us that this area is full of ridge parallel faults, many in which seem to be related to past ridge jumps, along with various clusters of smaller cones. Once back at the University of Idaho, I will be working with Dennis Geist to process the glass collected during dredging, this will give insight to the major element composition of the rocks. Overall I’ve enjoyed this trip immensely, being chosen really means a lot to me. I would also like to thank the chief scientist Karen Harpp and all the other scientist aboard the ship for provided me with this experience.
As expected, the research cruise went very well. Every undergrad, including myself, just finished up interpreting and presenting maps of areas throughout the study region. This final exercise produced much discussion between the students, and even between the experienced scientists on board. Although this part of the journey has ended, I am looking at this end as a beginning. This area of the world presents its complexities more and more as it is studied. Thus, our research on the Galapagos must continue in order for our team to develop a more complete, and accurate understanding of the region, ultimately extending our very interesting journey that begun on the Melville. Similar to most of the undergrads on board, this summer I will be conducting my research on the newly acquired data of the Northern Galapagos at Colgate University. I am looking forward to continuing my research alongside such recognized scientist (Karen Harpp and her science team), and am very thankful for such a brilliant opportunity.
We are finally back in port and all though I am excited to see land again I am going to miss the Melville and everyone on it! It was a great journey full of a lot dredging, mapping, interpreting, a couple late nights, and a lot of early mornings (thank god for yoga, expresso, and the patience of all the people around me seeing as I am such a morning person!). This cruise has taught me a lot of things like how to interpret areas of the sea floor using bathymetry and sonar data. It also taught me how to properly dredge, analyze rocks, cut rocks with the rock saw and my all time favorite thing to do-chip the rocks for glass. I hope to use this experience and all that I have learned to merge geology, education and a little biology in order to develop a lesson plan and package for my senior thesis. There is still a lot of defining and fine-tuning to do but I am very excited to get to continue to work with Stuart Banks and form new connections with teachers from the Galapagos. I have also learned a lot about blogging from this trip and would like to thank the other undergrads on board for helping me maintain the blog, it couldn’t have been done without you guys, ya’ll rock!
I would also like to thank all the “elders” on the trip Karen (for allowing me to tag along on this amazing adventure), Denny (for putting up with me and Carbone/ introducing me to the wonderful world of yoga), Eric (for being a good/patient mother hen), Mark (for putting up with bird squawking noises), Alison (for helping me make through the 12-4 shifts), Dan (for putting me in the position to be the brunt of many waxing jokes, never seemed to have gotten old) and finally Chris (for being a cool older wog). I would like to thank all of the crew who helped make the cruise what it was, we’ll miss you guys! Lastly, thanks for reading, its been fun.
Today I stepped on solid ground for the first time in two weeks and it felt great. However, it also marked the end of our trip and of a very special opportunity that we, the undergrads, have been given. Its not every day that you get the chance to live at sea for a month and learn how to map and dredge the ocean floor. While that alone was a great experience, its even more important to me that we got the chance to be involved in actual field work and to do science. We were fortunante enough to be very successful on this trip and are returning with a ton of data that will be used for years to come. Over the course of the cruise, I have become particularly interested in the morphology of the seamounts that we've studied. When I get back to Colgate, it is this aspect of our data that I'm hoping to work on and eventually present at the AGU conference next fall. All in all, this has been a fantastic and unforgettable trip and experience and I consider myself very lucky to have been involved.
Before singing off for the final time, I would be remiss if I didn't thank the people who, though their time and hard work, made all of this possible. So to Karen, Denny, Dan, Eric, Marc, Chris, Allison, the awesome crew of the Melville, Scripps, WHOI, and Colgate, thank you so much.
I also want to give a quick shout out to my family and friends back home and at school. I love you guys and can't wait to see you all again real soon... but first I'm gonna go lay on the beach for a couple days!
Chief Scientist Karen Harpp:
First, to answer the question we were asked to answer for the blog, I’m going to be making sure that the rocks we collected on the cruise get analyzed for major and trace element compositions as quickly as we can this summer, and that the students who all helped with the cruise get to work on their own research projects. Everyone is returning to Colgate to dive into their research projects. We will all be working together (like a well-oiled machine…) to analyze the dredged rocks by x-ray fluorescence (XRF) and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), make thin sections for petrographic analysis, and interpret the data. The chemical data will let us answer a bunch of questions critical to our work: how much plume material is mixing with ridge material, how deep the magma was generated, how much magmas have cooled before erupting, how the chemistry changes along the volcanic lineaments or in the transform fault, whether the big structures in the east fossil ridges reveal anything about the history of the Galapagos Spreading Center…and much more. All the students will also be using the sidescan and bathymetric maps we made to put their data in context as they try to answer these kinds of questions. This is a pretty lofty goal for one summer, but this team is up to it…with a little help from ice cream and greasy burgers at Gilligan’s for fuel, no doubt. Our goal is for every student on the cruise to get to present their project results in a poster at the AGU conference in San Francisco in December, which will not only give everyone the experience of going to a major scientific meeting, but will allow the rest of the scientific world to hear about what we’ve been up to floating around in the Pacific for the past month!
And now for the wrap-up…
Whenever Eric and I would meet at conferences and talk about the northern Galapagos, we’d always end the inevitably frustrating conversation by saying, “we REALLY need more data, hey, we need a cruise!” Then the other one would say, “yeah, like that will ever happen…” But after a bunch of years, the declaration from Dan for us to WRITE THAT PROPOSAL NOW YOU GUYS, and then the help from a great team of colleagues, we still can’t believe that it actually happened (yes Gravity Man I am speaking for you too).
SO, I want to express my profound thanks to everyone involved in this cruise for all of their hard work, good humor, advice, patience, and enthusiasm during the months leading up to it, all the work with the seminar, and throughout our time at sea. Special thanks to our Galapagos science team, Eric, Denny, Alison, Chris, Mark, and Adam, and a special thanks to Dan for your patience showing me the chief scientist ropes (not to mention building an entire TowCam at sea…). Congratulations to the all the students for a spectacular job, and thanks for all of your hard work, great attitudes, sleep deprivation, and enthusiasm. We are grateful to the HMRG folks for helping us hit a few sharks with sonar bursts (and make some incredible maps), and to Marshall for coming all the way to Costa Rica to help build the camera in the tropical heat. We also very much appreciate the enthusiastic participation of Stuart and Angela from CDRS, as well as Miguel and Carlos from INOCAR; we look forward to ongoing collaborations with each of you and your institutions. We are also grateful for the help from folks at SIO dealing with logistics and technical issues. Finally, a huge thanks to the captain and crew of the R/V Melville, for your impressive, skillful, and enthusiastic efforts helping us achieve our scientific goals, not to mention your willingness to dredge sideways and for bringing enough food to feed all of us, even when Carbone was on the boat.
And yeah, Eric, it’s YOUR turn next time. Can’t wait.
And a quick shout-out:
I want to send my love to my family, Dode, Bonnie, Thew, Jerome, Midge, Pete, Vern, all the animals, and especially Zekie and Dessa. Thanks for all your support with everything. See you guys soon, DDAIWD, and GTT! xo
And that pretty much wraps things up on the Melville, thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of you summer!