The Shumagin Islands

The Shumagin Islands

The R.V. Langseth

The R.V. Langseth


21 June 2011, 20:13


Five Columbia University undergraduates go to sea aboard the R/V Langseth as part of a class 'Sea-going Experience in Earth Sciences'. Read below to follow along with their adventures!

Only at Sea..

5 August 2011, 06:13

Kelly Hostetler

For our last blog entry we have compiled a list of the top ten sea-isms that we all have contributed to and experienced out at sea. Only at sea do you use a power stance when brushing your teeth or peeing (males) Only at sea do you feel like a pinball when you walk through the ship’s narrow corridors Only at sea can crunch #24 be impossible while crunch #25 is a breeze (thanks, wave direction) Only at sea have all your vegetables been frozen at least once Only at sea is beer not required to play drunken ping pong Only at sea does every night feeling like sleeping in a cradle Only at sea (on a seismic ship) does seeing a majestic whale spoil the day Only ...

Blowing Up Toilet Paper

4 August 2011, 02:18


Today, less than 42 hours before we say goodbye to the Langseth and all its scientific glory, we shot frozen grapefruits and toilet paper out of a Sonabuoy launcher. Hearing the news, I couldn't help but think I was back at sleepaway camp playing a game of telephone: "We're launching WHAT off the side of the ship? Grapefruits, yes, I thought that's what you said... you DID say frozen toilet paper? Right... and why is it frozen? So it doesn't light on fire? But didn't Rob say something about lighter fluid? Ok... and, sorry, one last question... why?" All these questions were answered either by Donna, our chief scientist (very respectable position, thank you very much...

The Times They are A'Changing

3 August 2011, 05:56


Data collection is almost over (we stop shooting on Wednesday at 6PM, local time), and the general mood is shifting. Almost everybody seems to be having trouble sleeping, leading not so much to grouchiness but a state of mild delirium. Once-stable sleep schedules are unhitched from their moorings to day and night, and everywhere you look, people seem to need a nap. Of course, the return of rougher seas doesn’t help, but the sleep changes began before that. Furthermore, as we near Dutch Harbor, conversation has turned to dreams of home, of what people will eat first at home, what they’ll do first at home, what special comfort they’ve missed the most. Everyone (particula...

Last days of shooting

2 August 2011, 21:28


It's hard to believe it's been three whole weeks since we joined the Langseth. It seems like just yesterday that we were waiting in our hotel room in Sand Point, sheltering ourselves from the rain and looking forward to adventures on board. With less than a week left on the ship, it's time to start wrapping things up. Yesterday after lunch the science party and crew gathered on the bridge deck to take a group photo. Those who were asleep even woke up for the occasion. We have one more line to shoot, then we pull in the streamers. We're all hoping that the time the streamers spent in the water have cleaned them a bit of the fish and brine that previously coated them. The b...

Lessons learned: How to be happy in defeat

1 August 2011, 01:57

Kelly Hostetler

And then I saw it plastered across his face; The sheer childish joy of victory. I have seen this gleeful purity before in the boys I used to babysit. Whether it was football, soccer or basketball, beating me, the babysitter, was always an expected but glorified accomplishment. Pride twinkled in their eyes, just as it did in Mladen’s. He is no ordinary opponent. Just like the boys I babysat were sneaky to bend the rules, Mladen is sly to break your focus and pin teammates against one another – sometimes before the match has even started. He allows you to have first choice of the paddles so there will be no excuses when you lose. He then tells you it’s good to play with ...

vegetarian haikus

31 July 2011, 05:47


For anyone with a vegetarian diet, shipboard life can be culinarily mundane.  Given that Manhattanites enjoy regular access to several excellent farmer's markets that provide fresh organic produce, their transition to all-canned, frozen mixed vegetables as the main veggie option day in and day out is less than welcome. Don't misunderstand, the cooks onboard Langseth are fantastic.  I am consistently amazed by what they can whip up with the ingredients available to them.  The salad bar is a valiant attempt to accommodate the vegetarian diet, but after 5 weeks at sea, it's lacking in vitality.  It's not the chefs" fault either, simply mother nature.  Imagine trying to ke...

Overcoming Cabin Fever

30 July 2011, 03:21


Apart for celebrations revolving around Andy's birthday, the past few days have been relatively uneventful. Several now-fixed equipment errors caused minor panics, but we've generally been shooting away, moving south of Kodiak Island, and soon we'll start to zigzag towards Dutch Harbor. We fill our days with books (this is already the best-read summer of my life so far), crosswords, movies, and increasingly good conversation. We are all catching up on sleep missed over the past few years. I know that many onboard are getting cabin fever, and I'll admit to some myself, but I think the worst of that has passed for me. The world is smaller now (though I'm starting the redisc...

Happy Birthday Andy!

29 July 2011, 02:52


Apologies for the late posts - there was some confusion with regards to who is writing when. Given that with our perpetually cycling shifts, the five of us are rarely ever in the same place at the same time, any form of coordination is a truly magical, and slightly telekinetic, accomplishment. Dearest little Andy, the oldest of us five undergraduates, turned a whopping 26 yesterday. To mark the occasion, the three girls - Kelly, Celia and myself - went to great lengths to secretly concoct an enormous Oreo ice cream cake. This requires far more coordination than is immediately obvious. For one, we are all on different shifts. Kelly and Andy switched time slots to allow ...

Seismic Oceanography

26 July 2011, 19:50


Last night on watch, we launched a total of 54 XBT and XSV probes in order to measure properties of the water column with depth. XBT (expendable bathy-thermograph) and XSV (expendable sound velocity) probes are, unsurprisingly, expendable instruments which remain on the seafloor once deployed. The probes drop through the water down to the bottom of the ocean, regularly measuring either temperature or sound velocity as they fall. Using these measurements it is possible to infer density as a function of depth in the locations where the probes are dropped. Density profiles derived from these measurements will be compared with reflections from within the ocean that are seen i...

The Sea Gods

25 July 2011, 03:01

Kelly Hostetler

It only took 10 minutes right before dinner-time to ramp up. Being down in the lab on watch, I couldn’t feel it starting until I made it to the galley. It was there in the mess that I experienced it’s full force. Hanging spoons swayed from side to side, water glasses sloshed from brim to brim and crew members tumbled from wall to wall. Yes, you may have guessed it. Perhaps Ursula the Sea Witch is having a bad day, but in the snap of a tentacle, the seas are once again rolling something fierce. Since Andy filled you in on our workouts (which are dangerously impossible in this weather), I get to avoid sounding like a meathead and instead I get to tell you all a little st...