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Sunday, November 4, 2007: Unseen by human eyes in decades!

We have learned a lot about how to be efficient at taking advantage of our best hours – between 7:30 AM and 9:30 PM. The sun is higher in the sky then, so it’s warmer, even if just psychologically so. So we “predrill” our holes, putting in four 3 ft flights, or 12 feet, and then cover the holes, leaving just two flights, or 6 feet, to drill out the next day. We still haven’t managed to get moving very quickly in the morning, but at least we have less hard physical labor to do right off the bat!
Here's Bob launching VideoRay down a hole
for the days dive at a site we call "Deep.
"
(continued...)

Bob got up early, because Mindy, who had the 6 AM Hotsy fueling, could not get the 6 wheeler started. We have to fuel the Hotsy every 4 hours or so, this is the lovely machine that is melting out holes that are large enough for divers or the VideoRay ROV, so we are on a rotating schedule. SCINI fits in a hole we can drill, but we are still working out some engineering bugs. Fortunately, the VideoRay is fully functional, if we just melt out a drilled hole for 24 hours or so. Anyway, Bob cooked us a lovely shrimp omelet breakfast, with tater tots and cherry turnovers. Though tasty, this did not encourage us to get to work quickly!
Drilling a 10 inch hole is hard work, and it takes several people to handle the drill head
and the weight of the flights. But be careful, it kicks UP when it breaks through to water.

Nevertheless, we had the gear packed up in short order. We finished drilling the navigation holes, moved the Scott tent “central command” and got started. We still are having issues with the navigation system, some problems being caused by battery life in the cold, others remaining mysterious. We did some debugging, and then moved on to searching for the “Lost Experiments.” These are the structures that were put down by Dr. Paul Dayton in the 1960s, which have not been resampled since. At that time, visual lineups, sighting between stakes and stones on shore, were the “state of the art” positioning. A few years ago we went back to the pictures Dr. Dayton has of his sites, and found the stakes and stones, and did our best to generate GPS positions from his lineups. GPS, Global Positioning System, has much higher accuracy than lineups, and you have heard us write about Joe and Thomas and the differential GPS which is even higher accuracy than regular GPS. So we have relocated the approximate position, and are using the ROV to search for the experiments that are at 41 m water depth. If we were doing this as divers, we would have less than 5 minutes to search. VideoRay spent 3 hours searching, and…
VideoRay underwater, starting a search pattern to locate the "Lost Experiments."

FOUND the Lost Experiments! When we first came across the structures- floats, settling tables, cages - we had an initial thrill of super-intense excitement that quickly gave way to a reverent awe that we were seeing things that had been hidden under the sea ice and meters of the Southern Ocean for 3-4 decades. We alternated between these two emotions, electrified every time a new structure came into view, and quietly respecting the scientists who worked so hard to put these experiments together under such difficult conditions.
Some of the seafloor experiments that are decades old. This "floater" is over 10 m high.

We spent the rest of the day huddled inside the Scott tent, mapping the relative locations of each item on the seafloor. Bob and Marcus had rigged up a laser scaling system, so we could tell the sizes of things as well. Mindy fed us tuna melts for lunch, and Nick made pizza for dinner, but it was a late night before we were finished. What a day! When we finally emerged from the yellow interior of the Scott tent, it took a while before my eyes would accept the blue of the seaice and sky. Just finding this site was a ginormous boost, and we are so excited it was hard for me to get to sleep. I spent a few minutes watching the clouds stream across Mt. Erebus across the sound, and was grateful for my life that lets me feel so fulfilled with the thrill of discovery.
Our Scott tent, where we spent 6 hours today glued to the computer screens as we
searched, found, and mapped one of Paul Dayton's historic study sites.




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This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ANT-0619622 (http://www.nsf.gov). Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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