Launching ABE

Launching the Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE). Click image for larger view.

The Team Gets Ready to Explore

May 25, 2002

The day began with safety drills for all hands, as the ship continues to transit toward the dive sites and the Galapagos Rift. Co-Chief Scientists Drs. Steve Hammond of NOAA, and Tim Shank of WHOI worked with the members of the science party to bring all the final details into a cohesive plan. The Alvin pilots demonstrated the safety and operational equipment of the submersible to all members of the science party.

The agenda for the day is set. As the ship arrives in the vicinity of the first diving site, called the “Rose Garden,” two navigational transponders are set into the water to provide an electronic reference for the submersible, and the Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE). Once the navigation network is established, ABE is deployed to map the dive sites in great detail with a high resolution sonar.

Sealion video

See a brief encounter with a Galapagos sea lion underwater. (mp4, 4.6 MB). Click image to launch video.

Then the conductivity, temperature, depth (CTD) device is lowered into the water to search for evidence of geothermal activity below. If it is detected, it will be from elevated temperatures or from measurable particulate matter in the water column. Once this is done, the ship will resume mapping with the multibeam sounder to generate new maps of the area. This should be the first of many busy nights.

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