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Dispatch 05 – Like a glazed doughnut…

The VERTIGO team soaping down the CTD/rosette (again).

Things just happen at sea. Rob Condon, a graduate student with Debbie Steinberg’s group, has been saying all week that “it’s ALL happening”. Many good things have happened and some not so good. And with lots of big machinery around and lots of moving parts, sometimes bad things happen. First, the good news. No one got hurt, no equipment was lost or broken (for long) and not much data were lost. This is the story of the glazed doughnut.

One of our primary tools in VERTOGO is the CTD/rosette. The CTD/rosette measures vertical profiles of temperature, salinity and other properties using a set of electronic instruments and allows us to collect water samples with a set of 24 remote closing bottles. On the recovery of CTD cast 19, the hydraulic line on the crane just above the CTD/rosette burst and absolutely coated the instrument, as well as the deck and Kuhio Vellalos (an excellent marine tech with the University of Hawaii’s Science Technical Assistance Group), with hydraulic fluid. It was like a glazed doughnut. Fortunately, all of the bottles were tripped so the insides of the bottles were not contaminated. But it was a huge mess.

So, we kept the bottles closed, scrubbed with soap, rinsed it off, scrubbed with Simply Green (a degreaser), soaked the CTD in the water for an hour with the bottles still closed, soaped and scrubbed again, wiped off as much as possible with dry paper towels, then finally opened the bottles, wiped off as much as possible with paper towels around the seals, soaped it again, dunked it again (and again and again) and have been doing a bunch of casts with just the electronic instruments going and the bottles open. The CTD/rosette not slimy anymore and it appears to be as good as it was and we’ve started to collect water samples again. This wasn’t anything we’ve been trained to deal with in graduate school (I guess the students on the boat have a unique opportunity!!). We think it’ll be OK. Fortunately, VERTIGO is focused on the particles in the traps not on concentrations of dissolved materials. Just shows how out of the blue, anything can happen.

— Dave Siegel