6 July 2012, 17:28


Five Columbia University undergraduates go to sea aboard the R/V Thompson as part of a class 'Sea-going Experience in Earth Sciences'. Read below to follow along with their adventures!The students are participating  in leg 2 of the 2012 field season for the Cascadia Experiment, a large community seismic and geodetic experiment studying questions ranging from megathrust earthquakes to volcanic arc structure to the formation, deformation and hydration of the Juan De Fuca and Gorda plates.  The goal of the leg 2 research cruise is to recover 24 ocean bottom seismometers (OBSs) deployed in 2011, and deploy an additional 6.  20 of the OBSs are a new design called a Trawl Re...

"Knee deep in the water somewhere..."

22 July 2012, 01:31


The last few days have been filled with action on the deck and in the lab as we shift our efforts to the 'focused network,' and the last 8 recoveries of our trip. The focused network contains 13 OBSs in a concentrated region off the Oregon coast between Gray's Harbor and Willapa Bay. Their close proximity to one another will provide the seismologists with a 2-D map of the subducting plate and hopefully capture the tremor events that are expected at this location. One might think that the shorter amount of time spent in transit between sites, and the fact that they are the shallowest instruments currently deployed, would facilitate swift and quick recoveries. However, ther...

Towards the Home Stretch

20 July 2012, 08:57


TRM (Trawl Resistant Mount) - a shallow water OBS (Ocean Bottom Seismometer) Thursday, July 19th 2012 Before I went to sleep last night, we were having a bit of bad luck. During the final stages of the most recent shallow water recovery of the TRM at site FN05A, we had unfortunately gotten the line attached to the TRM stuck on the ship’s propeller (eek!). With lines breaking and pop-up buoys not responding to signals, these TRM’s are keeping the whole crew on their toes! Luckily however, we were able to save this TRM and successfully cut away the line attached to the propeller. Though not sure whether the line attached to the propeller was okay, we decided to keep m...

To swells, challenges, and victories

20 July 2012, 03:30


Today has been one of the most eventful days on the cruise to date. Many complications, many victories! Four in the morning Astrika and I headed to the Jason control van to relieve the night watch. We entered right into the middle of the excitement. A few short minutes earlier, the line attached to the TRM at site FN09A had snapped sending the TRM back to the bottom of the ocean, upside down! Madea is meant to buffer the motion of the swells from above and Jason and the TRM below her, but the swells were particularly large early this morning. Madea recorded a shift of nine meters! This was enough to snap the line and send the TRM back to its former home. Captain John...

Deep-water diving day!

18 July 2012, 05:42


Tuesday, 17 July 2012 Good morning and happy halfway day science fans!  Cigars and brandy as is a sailor's tradition?  Not likely, but a new day brings new opportunity for OBS excellence.  I think everybody is settling into their roles and their schedules at this halfway mark of the cruise.  There seems to be a good rhythm about the ship and morale is still as high as it was when we set sail a week ago.  On the agenda for today is a set of deep water recoveries and finally some shallow water ops with Jason making a reappearance after a brief hiatus.  John and I had the fortune of being first up, as usual, on the 0000-0400 watch.  We were scheduled for a deep water pick...

The Seven Day Mark

17 July 2012, 13:03


We’ve finally hit the week mark for our trip. Seven days on the ocean. It seems as if we’ve been on the Thomas Thompson for much longer than just these seven days. But, the days have merged into one long time period. Sleep is still fragmented into various nap times. But there’s so much to do, see and learn here. The Columbia group has already played games, watched several movies, had some very interesting conversations (at 4 in the morning) as well as monitored this computer-filled ship. We’ve begun to work more so on our video. We’ll begin video recording our interviews with the ship’s crew, the Jason team, and the Lamont scientists tomorrow! So we’ve been prepping for ...

Dolphins off the Starboard side!

17 July 2012, 07:24


    The ship came upon a pod of dolphins while in transit to our next TRM OBS deployment site during my watch this morning!

Let the Sun Shine!

16 July 2012, 08:34


Everyone seemed to make it a point to get out on the decks for some time today. The sun was shining, the captain was fishing, and the hammock was swaying gently above the rocking ship. Although some people found themselves busier than others, I think most everyone enjoyed the nice weather and found a little time to relax. That said, the chief scientists took advantage of a particularly long transit between deployment sites to catch up on work, the engineers worked all day to improve on the TRM design after examining the condition of last year's instruments, we watch standers began planning a short film project, while the Jason team enjoyed a good day's rest after a few lo...

A Saturday on the Sea

15 July 2012, 19:00


Saturday, July 14th This morning I woke up to calmer waters than the ones I had fallen asleep to (last night I felt as if I was on a roller coaster that was going around and around in continuous choppy circles). Feeling a bit more tired than usual, Natsumi (my roommate, who is a graduate student from Brown University studying Seismology) and I woke up around 7am for our 8am watch. Breakfast on the ship is served starting at 7:15, and it is customary for watch standers to try and eat first so they can go relieve the current watch standers a bit early. Eating our breakfast quickly, Natsumi and I headed down to the watch room to relieve the 4-8 watch standers, Hanna and A...

Friday the 13th.... Good Luck?

13 July 2012, 20:25


We decided as a team that we have not provided an adequate geological and scientific purpose of our time here at sea.  So, here is a little background knowledge which helps not only you, but us understand our time here on station.  The Cascadia Initiative is “an onshore/offshore seismic and geodetic experiment that takes advantage of an amphibious array to study questions ranging from megathrust earthquakes to volcanic structure to formation, deformation, and hydration of the Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates.” (Tolstoy) Generally speaking, our purpose here is to collect 24 OBS units that were deployed last year and deploy 6 which will be collected next year.  From these unit...

Useful Vocab

12 July 2012, 20:39


Here are some useful vocab words that may appear in our blog posts. I've attached some pictures below as well! OBS - Stands for ocean bottom seismometer. This instrument is lowered over the side and rests on a tripod on the seafloor. It measures any and all seismic (earthquake) activity. TRM - Stands for Trawl Resistant Mount. This housing was designed and built at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty campus. For shallower water OBS sites, where trawl fishing is common, the TRM is used to protect the OBS and guide the trawling lines over the instrument without dragging damage. Jason - Jason is a submersible remotely operated vehicle, designed and built by WHOI. Equipped wit...