The Equipment
Keck Expedition 2004

Ship & Vehicle : R/V Western Flyer and the ROV Tiburon
(R/V = Research Vessel,   ROV= Remotely Operated Vehicle) 


  • TIBURON WAX CORES: These are specially designed cylinders that are filled with a special kind of wax (researchers used "Surfwax" up until a fwpe3.gif (223310 bytes)ew years ago!) which stays sticky in the cold deep ocean water. gear.h3.gif (104728 bytes) The manipulator arm on the ROV Tiburon grab hold of the wax cores by means of a cylindrical rubber handle and literally "whack" the wax covered end onto volcanic rock. (See picture above left - the handles of the corers can be seen clearly in the foreground)  The glassy surface of the rock (which forms when lava cools rapidly) sticks to the wax.  Even just a small amount of wax is sufficient to run tests on to determine trace and major elements that are present in the rocks.  This analysis will give something similar to a "genetic makeup" of the rock, letting scientists know of its origin.

  • Elevators: elevator.jpg (72680 bytes) Deployment of the broadband seismometer systems on this leg will require the use of elevators as a way to shuttle the equipment safely to the seafloor and back again. The elevators have flotation on the top, a basket for holding the equipment in the middle and an anchor that can be released to let everything float back to the surface. We have two elevator types, both
    designed and tested by Mike Conway. One elevator will be used to take new batteries and data logger down to the existing broadband site. The second type of elevator is more complex. It will take everything down to the seafloor that the ROV Tiburon will use to install the two new broadband sites.

  • Homers: Actually called Sonardyne Homerpro's, these are acoustic beacons that we use to mark equipment or sites that we will need to return to at some later time. The beacons that we put with our equipment here on the Juan de Fuca plate have batteries that are good for five years. Each beacon has its own frequency. The beacons get interrogated by the ROV which then can triangulate to the spot and find the gear. These beacons have proven to be very useful as we do not need to maintain a complete navigation system for equipment placed several kilometers apart. 

  • Water Lifter: the water lifter and the suction pump are the tools that are used to sink the caisson (a PVC pipe) to make a hole for the broadband sensor package. The water lifter is a multistage water jet that breaks up cohesive sediment.

  • Suction pump: Once the sediment is broken up by the water lifter, then a suction pump removes the sediment from the hole and spits it out behind the vehicle. Without this the ROV would soon be blinded by clouds of mud in front of the camera.

  • Bead Hopper: bead_hopper.jpg (56383 bytes) Once the broadband sensor package is placed into the caisson, we need to cover the entire thing with small diameter glass beads. The process of "beading in" the package reduces the noise on the instrument caused by tidally-driven bottom currents. Our instruments are so sensitive that they get disturbed by bottom currents even at the 2000 m water depths where we will place them. By lowering the oceanographic and pressure noise we will enhance the smaller seismic events in the data record. 
    The beads are carried down in a plastic bead hopper with a hose to fill the caisson. The filled bead hopper is actually fairly heavy, so it sits on the elevator with its own  flotation. The ROV will carry the bead hopper over to the caisson to fill the hole, then place the empty container back onto the elevator for recovery.

  • Seismonument: the seismonument is the portable borehole

  • Seismometers: Short period or corehole seismometers are placed into predrilled holes or into the seismonument

  • Broadband: Broadband seismometers are placed into caissons which are holes in sediment.

  • Toolsled.jpg (167122 bytes)Benthic Toolsled: You can see the manipulator arm at the upper left side of the photo and the sample drawer with partitions in the lower left. The drawer is shown open on deck, full of rocks. Normally it is closed when the vehicle is operating and only open when a sample needs to be stowed. The partitions help us keep the rocks in order. The rocks look so much alike, all covered in manganese, but the conditions of each eruption are different, and therefore the chemistry of rocks from each vent is different, so it is important to know where each rock came from.