Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hello, Mariana

Good morning, world. Right now, we are approximately located at 20°N 150°E. This is the first blog that I have ever written so we will see how it goes. My name is Teddy Them and I am finishing my MS in Oceanography at Texas A&M University. After several weeks of contemplation, on the first day of this cruise I decided to accept an offer from Virginia Tech to begin a PhD this August. My current research at Texas A&M involves reconstructing past climate conditions by analyzing the geochemical properties and abundances of fossil foraminifera recovered from Florida Straits sediment cores. While at Virginia Tech, I will study the geochemistry, stratigraphy, and sedimentology of organic-rich shales deposited during the Early Jurassic in what is now British Columbia. Although my research is not related to the current cruise mission, I am interested in seismics and was given the opportunity by Will Sager (Co-PI) to be a watchstander on MGL1206.

Right now, my duties include logging coordinates and ocean conditions every 30 minutes and monitoring some of the equipment by constantly checking the monitors for anything abnormal. As you can see from the picture, this is enough to keep us all busy. I share my duties with Tanya (postdoc at the University of Wyoming) and Heidi (undergraduate at the University of Hawaii), who will also blog later this week. Because we are still traveling to Shatsky Rise, stress levels are low. However, I’m sure when we start the science portion of the cruise everything will change. Luckily, our shift is from 8AM to 4 PM, which gives us time to see every sunrise and sunset, something I am trying to advantage of each morning and evening.

Yesterday, we crossed the Mariana Trench, which I hope was a momentous occasion for all of us; it definitely was for me. This trench formed (and continues to form) because the Pacific Plate is slowly colliding with and subducting beneath the Mariana Plate, a process which has been occurring for millions of years. The result of this geologic process is an area home to the deepest part of the ocean, a section of the Mariana Trench called Challenger Deep. To celebrate crossing the trench, we tried to get as many of the crew as possible to sign a metal plate (see picture). For this occasion, I was given the opportunity to throw the commemorative plate off the ship and into the deep hadal zone some 8500 meters, or 5.3 miles, below us! Sam recorded the video as I tossed the plate off the ship and I’m sure I will enjoy that for a very long time. The seafloor is continuously being imaged by utilizing multibeam bathymetry data (you can see Mariana Trench in the middle of the picture).

I guess that's all I have to say for now. I look forward to updating everyone next week after we begin science operations.

1 comment:

  1. What an exciting time for all of you. Did you see any whales or other mammalian sea life? Congratulations on the Virginia Tech decision!