And now, the end is near...
On the RV Sonne, still in the southwest Pacific, times are changing. The storms that plagued us in the first week of January seem to have left the area for now. The sun is dominating the sky. With less than a week on the calendar the scientists of the Archimedes-I cruise slowly start preparing for disembarkation. The last reflection and refraction of seismic profiles have been shot and all Ocean Bottom Seismometer (OBS) stations along that line have been recovered. The data look very promising.
Last recovery of the airgun-cluster. © Philipp Brandl
The dredge cannot be stowed away yet, because there are still some sites that require sampling
But, not all teams are ready for packing yet. The AUV has a last dive scheduled. It has made seven dives so far, to map the rift-axis, the fault systems and to find hydrothermal systems. Also the dredge cannot be stowed away yet, because there are still some sites that require sampling. So far, a variety of mafic and andesitic rocks have been brought up to the surface, including volcanic glass and pumice. The Magnetotellurics (MT) stations that have been on the ocean floor for the last 6 weeks still need to be recovered. The bathymetry and magnetic data acquisition will remain active until the very end.
Fresh pillow lava from the ocean floor. © Philipp Brandl
For me, it feels like the end of this cruise is near, even though we still have a full week left. Cleaning the releasers, the pressure tubes and the other OBS equipment, knowing that they will not be deployed anymore on this cruise, gives that feeling. These feelings are somewhat mixed. The idea to go back ashore again and be able to walk again for more than 50 meters in a green environment is very tempting, but it also means that another adventure will be finished. But, before we get to that point, we need to finish the table tennis competition, there is a last pub quiz to play and hopefully another week of beautiful sunsets, ocean-blue waters and clear-blue skies.
See you soon!
This blog post was published at the cruise's website on 22 January 2019.