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Cruise Summaries

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On this page: R/V Atlantis | R/V Knorr | R/V Oceanus | R/V Tioga


(Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

R/V Atlantis
Days at sea: 261; Cruises: 13; Alvin dives: 107
Investigators Served: 284 ; Nautical miles: 19,592

The R/V Atlantis began the 2008 operating year using the submersible Alvin to study the microbiology and biogeochemistry of hydrothermal vent communities at the East Pacific Rise (EPR) on the mid-ocean ridge. This cruise ended in San Diego, where Alvin was offloaded in preparation for an eight-week dry-docking of Atlantis.  In late April, Atlantis transited to the Gulf of California designated site for the National Science Foundation’s MARGINS research program with the ROV Jason, to study the transition from continental to oceanic crust. Alvin then resumed operations at the EPR using in situ voltammetric analyzers (metal ion analyzers) to study hydrothermal vents, and conducting a program to establish a long-term geodetic network at the Ridge 2000 Integrated Studies Site (studies of life and planetary processes at the mid-ocean ridge.) Atlantis then transited to Astoria, Oregon for three Alvin cruises at the Juan de Fuca Ridge off the Oregon-Washington coast. These cruises combined a variety of programs, including:
  • The study of the biology of hydrothermal vent paralvinellids (specialized heat-tolerant deep-dwelling worms);
  • Vent flow and turbulence monitoring;
  • A continuing program at the ODP (Ocean Drilling Program) borehole observatories (sensors inside the seafloor crust);
  • Testing optical communication sensors; modeling hyperthermophile (heat-loving bacteria) growth; and
  • Continuation of the NOAA-VENTS Research Program for studies of undersea volcanoes and venting.
Atlantis and Alvin returned to San Diego in September for a two-week open period and the Navy INSURV ship condition inspection. In October, Atlantis transited to Guaymas Basin off Mexico for Alvin dives to study microbial carbon and sulfur cycling in the hydrothermally-altered sediments. Atlantis and Alvin continued to work between Guaymas Basin and EPR for the remaining two cruises studying abundance, diversity and activity of single-celled microorganisms and protists; studying genomes from environmental samples (“metagenomic exploration”) to infer virus-host interactions in these deep-sea hydrothermal vent environments; and microbiology and biogeochemistry of autotrophic (chemosynthetic) microbes. Atlantis ended the year at sea near the Galapagos Triple Junction with a mapping survey to understand how deformation of Earth’s crust is distributed at tectonic plate triple junctions.


(Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

R/V Knorr
Days at sea: 287; Cruises: 9
Investigators Served: 212; Nautical miles: 40,844

The R/V Knorr began her operating year exploring deep-sea hydrothermal vents and testing communications between multiple autonomous underwater robotic vehicles off Ascension Island. Knorr then transited to Charleston, SC for a thirty-day shipyard period before returning to Woods Hole. In March, Knorr departed for the first of two legs of a north Atlantic polar air sampling program called Icealot. NOAA’s Icealot program brought Knorr just above 80°N latitude, the most northern point traveled for the vessel. Knorr continued to work off Iceland with a cruise using autonomous gliders for measurements of the North Atlantic phytoplankton bloom. In May, Knorr transited to Norfolk to support the first of the US GEOTRACES intercalibration cruises off Bermuda (GEOTRACES is an international program to study marine biogeochemical cycles—turnover of different chemical forms—of trace elements and isotopes, and intercalibration is to ensure comparable results from different cruises and labs.) Operations began again in August with two mooring deployments during a transit to Nuuk, Greenland. From Nuuk, Knorr continued to support a multi-year project in the Davis Strait, monitoring the variability of water mass fluxes (exchanges) between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. Knorr then transited to Iceland for a collaborative research project to study the dynamics of ocean shelf-ocean basin exchange south of the Denmark Strait. This cruise included an extensive web-based at-sea outreach program with U.S. and Icelandic schools, with vessel tours for local school children in Iceland and Woods Hole. Knorr returned to Woods Hole in November for the Navy INSURV ship condition inspection.  Knorr then loaded the Long Core system and transited to Panama for a Pacific program that investigated the marine ecosystems processes in the oxygen minimum zone. Knorr ended the 2008 operating year at sea off of Costa Rica.


(Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

R/V Oceanus
Days at sea: 209; Cruises: 13
Investigators Served: 186; Nautical miles: 29,588

The R/V Oceanus began operations in April with a study of plankton and the carbon cycle in surface waters between Maine and Bermuda. The second cruise of the year supported the testing and sea trials for the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry. At the end of April and again in May, Oceanus carried out two biology cruises to determine the extent of natural genetic diversity of the harmful algae Alexandrium in the Gulf of Maine and to better understand the forces that structure phytoplankton communities. In early May, Oceanus carried out a continuing physical oceanography study of the mechanism and rates of North Atlantic Deep Water (cold, dense, saline water sinking at high latitutes) export to lower latitudes at line “W” off Bermuda. Oceanus then completed an extensive sediment-coring program to collect deep-sea benthic foraminifera (shelled single-celled animals used for investigating sediment ages and past ocean temperature proxies.)  In July, Oceanus accommodated an ongoing unscheduled NOAA program that services an array of moorings in the northwest tropical Atlantic from Guadeloupe to Barbados. From Barbados, Oceanus began a trans-Atlantic CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) sampling cruise with multiple Principal Investigators studying the role of trace metals in regulating ocean biogeochemical cycles and upper-ocean mixing. The first leg of this program ended in Cape Verde and the second leg ended in the Canary Islands. In September, the Oceanus transited through the Suez Canal to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to support collaboration between WHOI and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) with two cruises in the Red Sea, including a water column study and a study of deep brine pools. On completion of these cruises, Oceanus transited to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, to continue the KAUST project testing equipment and collecting data in environments similar to those in the Red Sea. Oceanus then conducted the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series (BATS) and Hydrostation ‘S’ cruise and ended its operating year at Woods Hole in December.

(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

R/V Tioga
Days at sea: 107; Investigators Served: 477

The 2008 schedule for the R/V Tioga included many trips throughout the year to the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Observatory (MVCO) for deployment and recovery of equipment, as well as for servicing and maintenance. Other operations took Tioga as far as Massachusetts Bay, Cape Cod Bay, Long Island Sound, and the Connecticut River.  A variety of work was conducted, including engineering tests of the autonomous underwater vehicles Sentry and a REMUS 600; deployment and recovery of instruments, moorings, and sonar communications equipment; deployments of Real Time Acoustic Tracking Systems (RATS) for location and study of right whales; tagging of right whales and sea turtles; sediment coring; and Spray Glider operations. In addition, educational science trips for WHOI’s Summer Student Fellows and for other groups were conducted in Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound.

Last updated: July 23, 2009

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