With just less than a day to reach the site where we deployed the last ocean bottom stations a year ago, all on-board labs are now set up, and the deck and hanger cleared. The hanger and deck will be used to store the instruments while we transit back to land. The principal science officer called for a meeting to iron out the recovery procedure to be undertaken. Top on the agenda was safety during operations on the deck, where heavy machinery will be in use. It is also important for the watchstanders to ensure that the operations progress with ease and efficiency.
The Main Lab
The Main Lab is at the heart of the operations. This station is manned by scientists, or better known as watchstanders, who monitor each and every operation that is underway, from ship navigation, to monitoring continuous operation of ship-board instruments, and communications with the crew and the research techs who operate the ocean bottom instruments. Watchstanders operate 24/7 on 12 hour rotational shifts with at least 2 scientists during every shift.
The main lab is equipped with numerous displays that show real-time information from ship-board devices. The monitors are usually setup to display navigation from the bridge, a single-beam echo sounder that gives the depth of the seafloor, a multi-beam echo sounder to image the bathymetry in 3D, a sub-bottom profiler to image the sediments on the seafloor, a gravimeter, real-time GPS system, wind and wave energy, and finally CCTV to monitor deck operations.
The outer deck and hanger
The deck and hanger have been cleared to make space for the recovered instruments. Towards the end of the expedition this space would be taken over by shiny yellow instruments, crumbled up one next to the other.
The OBS and OBMT labs
These labs are dedicated to seismic and magnetotelluric instruments. The research technicians in these labs conduct surveys to determine the true position (latitude and longitude) of the instrument on the seafloor as it might have drifted during its ~5000 m journey to the bottom of the ocean! They are also well equipped to dismantle the delicate electronics of the seismograph, and the magnetometer and extract the precious data that was recorded for a year!