Reminding us why we are out here

We have been working all week around the clock to maximize the few days we have at Lost City. We will start updating the website with more blog posts, photos, and videos in the next several days. Here is a guest post by Cameron Henderson, undergraduate student working in Susan Lang’s lab at the University of South Carolina:

The sampling process we have established for the Lost City expedition entails a huge amount of work. We send ROV Jason down with our various sampling devices on it and pull samples from areas of interest. On the chemistry side of things, we work with a sampler called the HOG. It is a collection of cylinders with compressible bags inside them fed by an inlet valve. There are two rows, one for microbiology experiments and one for chemistry sampling. When Jason comes up, my main task is to deconstruct the sampler, remove and sub

sample the bags with everyone’s specific sampling volume, equipment, and technique, and then reconstruct the sampler with new prepped bags for the next dive. In addition, the science crew have been assigned various watch schedules in the ROV Jason control van to monitor cameras and log events. My watch is 12-4 both in the am and pm, meaning that I have had to adjust my sleep schedule accordingly. Unfortunately, the HOG process takes most of my day, and I have to manage my own project in my spare time. My personal project is Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) and involves extracting organic matter from seawater. My sleep cycle, or lack thereof, is not uncommon on the ship, as most of the people on board are operating at a similar level. Sampling days out here are critical (made even more precious by the ones we lost from weather), so every second on site counts. We should be out of the site by Saturday, as poor weather is approaching again.

Amidst all the chaos of lab work and hurricane dodging, one thing that has remained constant throughout the trip is the spectacular sunsets, which I try to catch every evening. There is nothing like watching a setting sun kiss the open ocean to a peach colored sky. As my boss and one of the chief scientists on board, Susan Lang, commented “It reminds you why we are out here.”

– Cam Henderson