AMASE 2007: First Day in the Field
Today was the first real day out in the field! It was also the first of
two helicopter days – always a bit hectic! We were split into two field
groups. I was in the first group to leave, headed to Jotun Springs by
Zodiac. AMASE teams have visited this site numerous times in the past
(along with many many tourist ships), but this was my first time. This
site consists of two main travertine terraces, a large slope of broken
travertine and several small pools containing cyanobacteria and other
types of green goo. Our goal was to collect a cross section of samples
representing the different micro-ecologies present in and around the hot
springs. Shortly after we arrived on site, it began to drizzle and clouds
that had covered the sky sank even lower.
Back on the ship, the second field crew was set to head out to Scott
Kelty, a plateau basalt above the Devonian Redbeds in the neighboring
fjord, by helicopter. We watched the clouds sink even lower, covering the
mountaintops and were surprised to see the helicopter make three trips
down the fjord and around the corner. The Scott Kelty field team
apparently decided to make the trip despite the gloomy weather. This
optimism was short lived. Once our samples were collected, the Jotun team
quickly returned to the Lance to get out of the rain. The Scott Kelty
team finally returned a few hours later wet and covered in red mud.
It turned out that they never made it to the plateau basalts at the top
of the mountain. The clouds were so low that the helicopter had to drop
them off on a ridge about 100m short of the top. They decided to wait and
see if the clouds would dissipate. After an hour or so, the weather
steadily got worse and they were forced to descend the steep slopes of
the Devonian Redbeds on foot to get to a point where they could be picked
up by the helicopter.
All was not a loss, however! We did collect samples at Jotun Springs. AND
I got our field GCMS to work!!! After more satellite phone discussions
with the manufacturer the previous night, we suspected there was a short
between our GC column and the mass spectrometer. In the afternoon I
pulled our instrument apart for about the 15th time… reset the column
exit guard, reassembled everything, and VOILA! It started working!! Even
the helium leak appears greatly decreased.
At the 9pm meeting, an AMASE tradition began. The newbies (of which we
have many once again) were charged with a task they must perform in order
to become real AMASErs. The AMASE management team challenged each newbie
to compose a limerick, which will be presented within the next 24 hours.
We can't wait to hear them!
While the newbies got to work on their limericks, most of the AMASE alums
decided to try out the new hot tub. Yep, our super amazing Lance crew got
together and built another hot tub out of palates and a tarp on the back
deck again, securing this fabulous feature as a tradition on AMASE.
Morton, the craziest Norwegian sailor onboard (and star lifeboat driver
during last year’s glacier ice collecting trip) led this effort and I was
intrigued to hear a bit of history behind the hot tub from him tonight.
The story goes…. Morton had been interested in building a hot tub on a
boat for a while –he had come up with a great plan using the supplies
available on board, but he was the youngest of the crew and the older
guys were not supportive of his idea. Finally last year, he gained
accomplices in Mette and Alef, the cook’s assistant and another crew
member respectively. This was enough of a team to build the first hot tub
last year for the final days of our trip. This tub only lasted until
Lance pulled into Longyearbyen, however, and was torn down right after we
disembarked. The Lance lacked a hot tub for the next six months until in January(!) during a polar bear
counting expedition, Morton managed to get another one built. Following
the expedition, Lance anchored in front of Longyearbyen. Crew members
smiling and waving from a large steaming tub on the back of the Lance
drew the attention of folks on shore who made out the hot tub with photo
zoom lenses. A small blurb appeared in the local paper, the
Svalbardposten, saying Lance was the first ship in Svalbard with a hot
tub on deck! This recognition increased support for the tub and so it has
stayed more or less since.
Morton and the Lance planned ahead for AMASE this year. Precise
calculations and drawings were made for a new and larger hot tub,
considering the weight of the water and extra diesel needed to heat it.
This year Morton’s tub is almost twice as big, has a reinforced tarp, and
is piping hot at 42 degrees Celsius.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center