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A Testing Day

Today has been a day of testing equipment. It has taken Professor Christine Peirce, Professor Chris MacLeod, Professor Tim Reston and Professor Roger Searle six years to get from bidding for the expedition to the voyage becoming a reality.

The collaboration of these Professors from Durham, Birmingham and Cardiff Universities has resulted in the JC132 to the Mid Atlantic Ridge to study how the sea floor actually spreads. I will write a post to explain the different theories in a few days. 

At first light 7:00am the Ocean Bottom Instruments Team tested their releases for their equipment. The scientists tested to see if the releases would ‘speak’ back to them. The releases are needed so that equipment placed on the bottom of the ocean floor comes back (is released) to the surface (and the scientists) when the testing is over. Each piece of equipment (OCEAN BOTTOM SEISMOGRAPH) OBS is worth £30,000 and the data is not recoverable if the OBS stays at the bottom of the ocean. Therefore the releases are checked VERY thoroughly. 34 releases are being tested today. I will tell you more about the OBS equipment tomorrow as I am spending the day working with the OBS team.

Releases (within black tubes) about to descend into the ocean

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Tim, Ben and Nuno are checking to see if the releases are ‘hearing’ them and listening to the receivers responses.

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Around 9am a transponder for the Autosub (I’ll do an Autosub blog soon) was tested. As the Autosub is left for some hours to navigate the ocean floor it is necessary to test the transponder at a greater depth. The transponder was dropped to 4500m (just short of the ocean floor). Attached to the rigging were our polystyrene cups, head and gnome. The water pressure compresses the air spaces in the polystyrene so the cups shrink.

Professor Roger Searle’s book with Professor Tim Reston’s mini cup.

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You can see how much the cups have shrunk by comparing them with a cup that has not had the pleasure of descending 4500m. See @teacheratseaMAR on Twitter for more pics.

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Next the magnificent Autosub itself was tested. Firstly she dipped her tail in the water then her buoyancy was adjusted. Next Autosub was due to have trail swim at 30 degrees and dive down under the surface. There was some kind of problem and now Autosub is having some tweaks and will be re tested tomorrow.

Autosub alongside the RRS James Cook. See Twitter for more pictures – @teacheratseaMAR

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