Second Alvin Dive, No. 4862 / Segunda Inmersión del Alvin, No. 4862

The science crew is mostly asleep after an exhausting night of processing cores, and the breakfast lines are thin, but two science crew members are up in time, no matter what.  Science observers Dirk de Beer of the Max-Planck-Institute for marine Microbiology in Bremen [with glasses], and postdoc Emil Ruff, formerly at the MPI but now at the University of Calgary, Canada [with microbial T-shirt], are reporting for this Alvin dive. Dirk has dived in Alvin already in 2009, and novice diver Emil is now seeing a lifelong dream fulfilled at last. Mark the date: December 13, 2016. The wonders of the deep await them, but I told them, don’t come back without good Beggiatoa mat cores. El equipo de científicos suele estar dormido después de una agotadora noche de núcleos de procesamiento, y el horizonte para el desayuno es limitado, pero de cualquier modo, dos miembros de la tripulación científica están a tiempo. Los observadores científicos Dirk de Beer del Instituto Max-Planck de Microbiología Marina en Bremen [con anteojos], y el postdoctor Emil Ruff, antes en el MPI pero ahora en la Universidad de Calgary, Canadá [con camiseta microbiana], se presentan para la inmersión del Alvin. Dirk ya ha tripulado en el Alvin en el 2009, y el tripulante novato Emil ahora está viendo como finalmente sus sueños se hacen realidad. Marquen la fecha: 13 de diciembre de 2016. Las maravillas les esperan en la profundidad. Pero les dije que no vuelvan sin buenos núcleos de esteras con Beggiatoa.img_5660sm

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One final wave and off they go. The sub is piloted by Pat Hickey, who has racked up more Alvin dives than any other human on the planet (680-ish and counting). There is an informal competition going on among Alvin pilots, almost like counting the years of royalty on the throne.  They are definitely keeping track! Una última ola y se van. El submarino es pilotado por Pat Hickey, que ha acumulado más inmersiones del Alvin que casi cualquier otro humano en el planeta (650 y contando). Hay una competencia informal entre los pilotos del Alvin, casi como contar los años de la realeza en el trono. ¡Definitivamente se están siguiendo la pista!

The dive is long and productive, and the team returns with lots of really plush orange Beggiatoa cores from a very warm site, with temperatures at 50 cm approaching 75C. This site does not smell  of hydrocarbons, but – based on the many bubbles that have escaped from many cores – appears to be rich in methane. After previous studies in 2008 and 2009, we recognize the classic combination of methane- and sulfate-rich sediments where methane-rich subsurface fluids and sulfate-rich seawater mix not just by gradual [and very slow] diffusion, but by convection, almost like in a hydrothermal laundromat. The large Guaymas Beggiatoa love this particular environment and grow as thick pillows on these sediments. matharvest

Here, Alvin samples sediment cores with a thick over of orange Beggiatoa; the cores are quite hot – ca. 70C – at the bottom and are eagerly awaited by the Beggiatoa aficionados on the ship.

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Before we can continue with serious science, newbie Emil has to be initiated into the select Society of the Alvinauts. A committee has prepared the solemn event that at first reminds one of the biblical footwashing ceremony that the Habsburg emperors performed until 1918, but all of a sudden it takes an unexpected turn — in a shower of ice water with coffee grinds. img_5668sm

While Emil is restoring himself after this exhausting dive, and the cores are carted off into the cold room, these two seem quite elated about something. We wonder about what? Follow the latest turns of the expedition on hashtag #GuaymasBasin.img_5687sm

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