Deep Sea Diary: In the lab and painting maps

Sunday, June 3rd, after 7:30 breakfast

At the general use computer in my lab, I am sitting next to a fellow with dark eyes and long black hair, Jake Bailey, who is a Geobiologist from the University of Minnesota. Jake is 37 years old and at 21 he was reading books on physics and became interesting in planetary science, paleontology and detection of life on other planets. This led him to study microbes (which includes bacteria and other tiny organisms). Most are 1 micron and these are 1000 microns. The largest known are here in the deep sea seeps.

Phosphatic minerals deposited in the ocean in the past are where they feed. Places where there is lots of sulfite is where they get their energy, not from food. We get our energy from transferring electrons of organic molecules to oxygen. These bacteria get their energy from hydrogen sulfide, which is the rotten egg smell. When Jason goes down they bring back sediment cores and these contain the microbes Jake studies. He was disappointed that the last dive did not give him new information. It is his 4th trip on the Atlantis. He has been able to get a couple of divisions of the large unique bacteria found in the vents but they die because they do not have the right conditions. 99% of bacteria in the world has not been grown but scientists can sequence the DNA and 1% can be cultivated.

Laura Brothers is the USGS Woods Hole Research Geologist that I work with on this voyage. At 32, she is on a second trip to the deep sea but it is her first on the Atlantis. She is the perfect partner for me as she maps the floor of the ocean and the captain and Jason crew use this information to decide where to go next. Her interest in geology came when she was a youngster from the coal mining area of West Virgina. Love of the natural world and its resources brought her to Coastal Marine Geology. Her professors that pulled her from sociology to geology were students of my beloved boss, Orrin Pilkey. She and I are interested in the bigger picture. She is vivacious and our personalities harmonize. She has dark brown hair, and a big welcoming smile with loads of energy. Our backs are to each other for easy communication but we are quiet most of the time working diligently.

I can paint then Laura can tell me what to change to make it more correct. I also discuss the scale and perimeters before beginning. Yesterday I painted a square format of the mud volcanoes we are studying this voyage, the Atalante and Nano 13 Kilometers.

We are in a room full of maps and computer equipment and the MOCNESS deck for pulling up the nets described in an earlier post.

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