The Beacon: Jon Warrenchuk's blog

Jon's Journal: Day 2


[editor's note, by Jason] Jon Warrenchuk is currently participating in NOAA's 2004 Gulf of Alaska Seamount Expedition.


JULY 31, 2004: Foghorn blasts and 6 foot seas don't exactly lull you to sleep, so this morning many of us are somewhat groggy. We're gathered in the main lab for safety training; it's a full group, 24 scientists total. We have 2 more days of transit before the first study site, so there's lots of time to get to know one another.

Dr. Tom Shirley, an invertebrate zoologist from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is the chief scientist on the cruise and organizes a presentation by the principle investigators (PI's). He's interested in deep-sea coral communities as habitat for invertebrates and other deep water organisms. Tom was my advisor in graduate school, my neighbor across the bay in Juneau, and is an all-around good guy.

Dr. Randy Keller, a geologist from Oregon State University, is hoping to gain a better understanding how the seamounts were formed volcanically. He's brought a cadre of multi-beam mapping Gurus and rock jocks to assist in the effort.

Amy Baco-Taylor, from Woods Hole, will collect corals for genetic work and will compare coral diversity on different seamounts.

Peter Etnoyer, sponsored by MCBI, is looking for large monotypic stands of bamboo and primnoid corals.

All are veterans of this kind of work, and they'll be using one of the most unique research tools in the world: the deep-diving submersible "Alvin"... more tomorrow.


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Jon's Journal: Day 1


[editor's note, by Jason] Jon Warrenchuk is currently participating in NOAA's 2004 Gulf of Alaska Seamount Expedition.


JULY 30, 2004: I'm currently in a good-sized computer lab that wouldn't look out of place on a University campus. But Puget Sound is moving quickly past the portholes, and a gentle sway reminds me that I'm actually on a boat.

"Boat" is a misnomer for the 275 foot "Atlantis", a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute research vessel that's equipped to gather data from the bottom of the ocean and everything in between. We left port in Seattle 4 hours ago and we're en route to the middle of the Gulf of Alaska.

I've been lucky enough to be invited along on a project to explore a group of little-known seamounts, which are volcanic underwater mountains that rise up from the ocean floor. There's much more to tell, but I may be reaching the limit of my ship-to-shore e-mail... stay tuned!!


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