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Going with the flow

Science at sea-part two

In the spirit of adjustment, I asked scientists on the expedition how their goals and approaches have evolved since we've been underway. Here is a sampler of what they said:

Isaac Keohane (University of South Carolina) brought two computers and an external hard drive on the expedition for redundancy. As luck would have it, one of his computers died early in the expedition and fried the hard drive along with it. Isaac spent a day and a half reinstalling the software he needed to process sonar multibeam bathymetry data on his second computer. In the end the reinstallation was successful, and Isaac learned the ins and outs of the processing software along the way.

Cherise Spotkaeff (Hawaiian Pacific University) and Emma Brown (Arizona State University) brought multiple sizes of their sampling materials, both anticipating a degree of trial and error. Cherise and Emma were using a UFO (Universal Fluid Obtainer) to collect fluids at the hydrothermal vents. Emma changed the placement of her sample bags on Jason twice to minimize the sample tubing length and thus reduce the dilution of her samples from the ultra pure water that sits in the tubing prior to sample collection. Cherise added a non-slip mat under her sample boxes after the cameras on Jason showed significant wiggling when Jason dipped below the waves on the first dive of the expedition.

Sarah Lamm (University of Kansas) and Jessie Bersson (Arizona State University)came in with hopes of getting sediment and rock fragment samples from Kama'ehuakanaloa but were thrilled when Jason was able to pry sizable chunks of basaltic rock off the summit crater floor.

The challenges Rebecca Rutstein encountered as artist-in-residence are not dissimilar than those the onboard scientists grappled with. Rebecca had to anticipate the supplies she would need and work within a makeshift setting. She framed those challenges as an opportunity to work with what's available on a boat floating 18 miles offshore. When the lights went out Rebecca was in her laboratory-turned-art-studio. With the boat stirring with crew members problem-solving and alarms sounding, Rebecca knew the only thing for her to do was to keep on painting.

The 2023 Kama'ehuakanaloa Hydrothermal Vents Expedition is an NSF-funded collaborative research expedition in January 2023. All blog posts from the expedition can be found at:

This post was written by Jessie Bersson, an early career participant and science outreach contributor on the 2023 Kama'ehuakanaloa Hydrothermal Vents Expedition. The post was informed by interviews with chief scientist Chris German and other members of the expedition's science team.