2009 Pacific Northwest Expedition

Leg 1 Logbook - Laser Raman Spectroscopy
Day 14 – Our work at Barkley Canyon is done
July 20, 2009

Underway to Hydrate Ridge off the coast of Oregon.
Latitude 45 degrees 46.0 minutes N
Longitude 125 degrees 25.5 minutes W
Heading: 166
Speed: 6 knots

Most of the tasks that we wanted to do are accomplished. We are underway to Hydrate Ridge where we have one last dive scheduled. It is a slow relaxing day for science and crew. We take time to catch up on some sleep and minor tasks around the lab and ROV. Email is a major activity as we write to family and friends at home. Our three-times-a-day satellite link will be full with messages of successes and requests for supplies for the next leg. It is Monday back at MBARI and staff there will be busy supporting the ship and getting ready for the next leg that will start at the end of this week. And packing up the gear in the lab has begun—things not needed for the next dive are already being wrapped and put into boxes either for shipment home or to be stowed for use on later legs.

The ROV pilots did some work on the ROV today. Part of this effort was to drain and refill the oil in one of the manipulator arms. Since this work requires exercising the arm to get the air out of the hydraulic lines, the pilots thought it would be a good idea to get the scientists involved in moving the arm. We got a chance to see what it was like to do some fine-scale manipulations with the robotic arm and they got a chance to watch us struggle. It was a humbling experience. Fortunately, they didn’t let us play with anything breakable or irreplaceable.

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ROV pilots Bryan Shaefer and Bernard Roth inspect the ROV Doc Ricketts after making preparations for tomorrow’s dive.

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Mark Talkovic and Bryan Schaefer instruct Xin Zhang in how to operate the ROV manipulator arm. Keith Hester looks on and offers encouragement to help Xin out of a tight spot.

Since we left Barkley Canyon, the winds have picked up and the seas are building. The wind is blowing 22 knots and stronger winds are in the forecast. Going slow makes for an easier ride for all and saves a bit on fuel. We are thankful of that. All hands are aware of the rough ride coming so as we go about our business today we are careful to make sure everything is tied down and secure.

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ROV pilot Randy Prickett operates the big crane to move the ROV into the center of the moon pool prior to strapping the vehicle down in preparation for some rough weather.

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Chief Pilot Mark Talkovic takes one long last look at ROV Doc Ricketts before turning in for the night all the while wondering what else needs to be done.

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Mystery photo #2:
It has been several days since our last mystery photo; here is the new one. This creature was found riding aboard ROV Doc Ricketts on a dive early last week. The mystery is…what is this creature's name and habitat and what peculiar behavior brought him to our attention? Good luck! The answer will be posted at the end of the cruise leg.

—Ed Peltzer


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Leg 1

R/V Western Flyer

The R/V Western Flyer is a small water-plane area twin hull (SWATH) oceanographic research vessel measuring 35.6 meters long and 16.2 meters wide. It was designed and constructed for MBARI to serve as the support vessel for ROV operations. Her missions include the Monterey Bay as well as extended cruises to Hawaii, Gulf of California and the Pacific Northwest.

ROV Doc Ricketts

ROV Doc Ricketts is MBARI's next generation ROV. The system breaks new ground in providing an integrated unmanned submersible research platform, with many powerful features providing efficient, reliable and precise sampling and data collection in a wide range of missions.

Laser Raman spectrometer DORISS2

By bouncing a specially tuned laser beam off of almost any object or substance—solid, liquid, or gas—a laser Raman spectrometer can provide information about that object's chemical composition and molecular structure.

Push cores

A push-core looks like a clear plastic tube with a rubber handle on one end. Just as its name implies, the push core is pushed down into loose sediment using ROV Tiburon's manipulator arm. As the sediment fills up the core, water exits out the top through one-way valves. When the core is pulled up again, these valves close, which (most of the time) keeps the sediment from sliding out of the core tube. When we bring these cores back to the surface, we typically look for living animals and organic material in the sediments.


Vibracoring is a common technique used to obtain samples from water-saturated sediment. These corers work by attaching a motor that induces high frequency vibrations in the core liner that in turn liquefies the sediment directly around the core cutter, enabling it to pass through the sediment with little resistance.

CO2 accumulator

Carbon dioxide is a liquid at the temperatures and pressures on the seafloor where hydrates are known to occur. Because of this, one cannot simply take down a tank of gas and expect to be able to release it at depth. Instead, the CO2 piston accumulator is used to deliver precise volumes of liquid CO,2 to experiments on the seafloor. The valves are operated hydraulically by remote control and hydraulic pressure is used to expel the liquid CO2 and deliver it to the experiments.

Heat-flow probe

MBARI's heat-flow probe is mounted on the side of the ROV Doc Ricketts inside the vertical stainless steel box. This both protects the delicate probe and provide the track so that the probe can be inserted into the sediment along a totally straight path.  The probe contains five high precision platinum sensors which are used to measure the vertical temperature gradient in the sediments. This gradient along with some knowledge of the heat capacity of the sediment allows scientists to calculate the rate of heat loss from the sediments into the ocean.

 Research Team

Peter Brewer
Senior Scientist, MBARI

Peter has taken part in more than 30 deep-sea cruises, and has served as chief scientist on major expeditions and on more than 90 ROV dives with MBARI ships and vehicles. His research interests include the ocean geochemistry of the greenhouse gases. He has devised novel techniques both for measurement and for extracting the oceanic signatures of global change. At MBARI his current interests include the geochemistry of gas hydrates, and the evolution of the oceanic fossil fuel CO2 signal. He has developed novel techniques for deep ocean laser Raman spectroscopy, and for testing the principles and impacts of deep ocean CO2 injection.

Ed Peltzer
Senior Research Specialist, MBARI

Ed is an ocean chemist who has been with MBARI since 1997. He has been involved in developing instrumentation and analytical techniques to study the composition of gases in gas hydrates and deep-sea vents. He has also collaborated on the development of new instrumentation for the measurement of temperature and pH from an ROV. As the group's project manager, Ed is also responsible for expedition planning and logistics.

Peter Walz
Senior Research Technician, MBARI

Peter has worked as a research technician for a variety of scientists at MBARI. Most recently he has supported the research efforts of Dr. Peter Brewer and his interests in the ocean chemistry of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. Peter assists with the design, testing and deployment of the ocean going science hardware and works closely with the marine operations group to integrate new equipment to work with MBARI's ROV's.

Xin Zhang
Graduate Student, Ocean University of China & Visiting Investigator, MBARI

Xin Zhang is a Ph.D. student from the Ocean University of China and is now studying at MBARI with Peter Brewer and Bill Kirkwood. He has been involved in the development of a Deep-Sea Raman Probe for the measurement of sediment pore water geochemistry. In this expedition, he will focus on obtaining the in situ pore water Raman spectra and the collection of pore water samples for subsequent shipboard analyses by ion and gas chromatography.

Keith Hester
Conoco Phillips

Keith is currently an associate engineer with ConocoPhillips focused on natural gas hydrates. Keith received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 2007. This was followed by a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute with Dr. Peter Brewer. His research interests include the use of carbon dioxide to replace methane in natural hydrates.

John Ripmeester
Principal Research Officer, Materials Structure and Function Group
National Research Council Canada

John has been a staff member at the NRC since 1974, first with the Division of Chemistry, then with the Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences upon its establishment in 1991. His research focuses on the chemical applications of solid state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, the development of multi-technique approaches to the characterization of materials, supramolecular chemistry, porous materials, clathrates, gas hydrates, and other guest-host materials. He has nearly 500 publications and six patents and is often an invited speaker at special events.