We have a number of wonderful volunteers on our cruise including two high school students from Lincoln High School in San Diego. They are also keeping a blog while on board - check out Julie Alvarez's and Jonathan Franco's


posted Dec 7, 2012, 1:22 PM by Jennifer MacKinnon

We arrived back home safe and sound a few days ago and now get to spend the next year thinking about all the exciting data we gathered, figuring out what it all means, and turning our new insight into a series of presentations and scientific papers. But before we go, one final fun thing to share.  

Before we left we had both my son's preschool class and Julie and Jonathan's high school class decorate styrofoam cups.  Many of the scientists and even some crew on board also decorated cups.  Here are a few examples:


Then we put all the cups in a bag and attached them to the CTD wire (just below an exciting looking instrument that measures ocean currents) and sent them down to the bottom of the ocean.


 Note how FULL the bag is with all those big decorated cups.  And look how EMPTY the bag is when the come back up (below)!  The incredible pressure at the ocean bottom has crushed the cups to a small fraction of their original size

Here are a few of my favorite shots of the crushed cups. 

This morning I had the opportunity to return the cups to my son's preschool class and tell them a bit about our adventures.  It's incredibly rewarding to see them get so excited to receive their souvenirs.  Their excitement also reminds me that I, and all of my ship-mates, are absurdly lucky enough to be actually living the lives of "explorers" that many people only get to read about in children's books.  

Thanks for following along on our adventures!  And if you're interested in other sciency blogs check out these things:

* The "Scientist at work" series at the New York Times profiles fieldwork campaigns of scientists just like us.  I find them really fun to read.

* Our colleague and friend Matthew Alford at the University of Washington and his "wavechasers" group  keep running blogs of their many related oceanographic trips through their  website:

Best of luck in all of your own adventures from all of the "Mixing at the Margins" team   :)

Our crew!

posted Dec 1, 2012, 4:47 PM by Amy Waterhouse   [ updated Dec 1, 2012, 9:38 PM ]

From L to R: Vanessa, Josh, Julie, Hanne Beatte, Michael, Liz, Jonathan, Ruth, Amy, Paul, Jonathan, Kris, Jen, Bob, Alfredo and Felipe!
You guys are all the best!!

29 November 2012

posted Nov 30, 2012, 12:57 AM by Amy Waterhouse

The wind and waves have been beating us pretty hard the last few days while back home in San Diego we keep hearing about how good the surf is... all part of the same storm that came down from Alaska. The winds are *only* blowing 25 kts right now - that's much less than the 50-55 kts earlier this afternoon. All of the crew on the Melville have been working hard to get this data for us and we appreciate it a lot!

We put the CTD back in the water yesterday for 10 hours and then again this morning at 7am. We are still getting profiles from Eel canyon and are about to wrap it all up tomorrow. Hard to believe that we are almost done this amazing trip! We still have 3 more days until we reach San Diego.

Everyone has been in great spirits and we have had some amazing science talks these last few days. Bob Reed taught us about crystallization and his microscope that can detect them, Jonathan Nash talked to us about the intermittency of internal waves on the continental shelf and tonight, Michael Fuentes taught us about neurobiology and his work at the Salk Institute. This involved an amazing video of a cheetah that we were all quite mesmerized by!

Always enjoyable are the desserts - the cooks do an outstanding job in all of the food that they prepare! We have perfected the art of turning a regular cookie into a super-ice-cream-cookie-sandwich!

Jen and Jonathan are happy consumers of the ice-cream cookie sandwich!

Amy got to help test the fire hoses with the Chief Engineer and Joe Martino

27 November 2012

posted Nov 28, 2012, 3:05 AM by Amy Waterhouse

It's midnight and I'm waiting up to see if the CTD will have to be recovered due to bad weather. I'm checking the winch display 49m and still coming up. If it stops at 30m and goes back down, we are still in business. If not, the CTD is coming up and back to plan B: XBT surveys or ship board ADCP surveys which are the safest option when the weather gets really bad.

While I wait, I'm reflecting on the last two days! And what a long two days it has been... With the approaching storm, we successfully took out the moorings ahead of schedule and have spent part of today downloading and sorting all of our data. There was no rest for anyone though as we put the CTD back in the water as soon as we left the last spot of the mooring recovery.

The CTD is now at 10m… looks like its coming out of the water. Another storm bringing 30ft seas and 50kt winds headed up from the south. The winds and waves are too strong to even do the XBT profiles so we are going to head down to the Mendocino Ridge again to use the shipboard ADCP.

The first mooring is alive! The top (two yellow balls) and the bottom (bunch of yellow balls) all within close distance

First piece on board!
Paul and Jonathan can multi task: tag lines AND smiling!

Liz and Alfredo operating the winch and air tugger needed to pull in all of the wire and instruments

This is what is called a "wuzzle". Like a puzzle!

Jen and Amy taking a quick photo break in front of Josh and Paul who are trying to sort out yet another glass ball wuzzle. What fun!

Jonathan and Liz with releases, cages, current profiler and top floats all safely back and strapped down for the journey home

The downloading begins...

The truth!

posted Nov 26, 2012, 9:22 PM by Amy Waterhouse   [ updated Nov 27, 2012, 1:54 PM ]

Hooray! After a long day we recovered all three moorings and have everything back in one piece (except for a lone temperature logger which may indeed be here somewhere, we have just yet to find it).

Everyone worked so hard to do this, especially Josh and Paul - who worked tirelessly today (as well as all of the other days that we've been out) and we all owe a huge thanks to everyone on the Melville.

Thanks Paul and Josh! You two are the best!

Now to the data! We are SO EXCITED and are downloading like mad now, with every capable laptop hooked up to something!!

More to come soon.

(big waves and winds are also on their way!)

Moment of Truth!

posted Nov 26, 2012, 6:29 AM by Jennifer MacKinnon

It all comes down to this.  With another huge storm approaching we've decided to recover our moorings while we still can.  So we're up early, music cranked, coffee brewed, nervous spirits high.   Something all of us learn early (and hopefully not too often) is that anytime you put anything in the ocean there's a decent chance you'll never see it again.  These moorings have been sitting in the ocean beneath up, out of touch for the last few weeks.  In  a few minutes we'll send an acoustic signal to instruments holding the entire thing to the bottom anchor telling them to let go.  Then we all stand out on deck, on the bridge, trying to be the first person to spot the happy orange float as it pops up to the surface (hopefully not underneath the ship!).  With any luck we'll have two complete moorings back on board by late afternoon, and they can start telling us what they've seen.  

Follow along on the web-cams!

Stay tuned....

25 November 2012

posted Nov 25, 2012, 9:57 PM by Amy Waterhouse   [ updated Nov 25, 2012, 9:58 PM ]

Based on the exciting observations (that Jonathan described below) that we were getting upstream of our mooring in Eel canyon, we decided to change plans a bit today and go to a station between us and the moorings to try and get a handle on the large amount of mixing we observed in the canyon. Looks like the plan was a good one as we are still seeing elevated levels of mixing deep in the canyon!

Forecasts of winds and waves aren't looking good starting on Tuesday/Wednesday, so the moorings we put out at the beginning of the cruise are going to be pulled out tomorrow morning (instead of mid-week).

We are going to start bringing back all of the instruments,
floats and chain we put in the water on November 13th.

(Photos: Capt D. Murline)

Everyone, save the intrepid night watch (who are still minding the CTD profiling overnight), has gone to bed early to prepare for a 530am start.

Wish us luck!  :)

Hit the Jackpot?

posted Nov 25, 2012, 6:34 AM by Jonathan Nash   [ updated Nov 25, 2012, 6:41 AM ]

Routine, routine, routine....

So we've been sitting looking at this computer screen for almost 2 weeks now.  Every 20 minutes talking to the winch operator to either go up or down.  Speed up slow down.  Every 40 minutes go outside to check the instruments.  Trying to keep awake while watching the little lines on the screen; make sure every instrument is functioning.

Well today it looks like we've hit the jackpot.  Or at the start of it. 
Hanna and Jonathan (the other Jonathan...) for their after-shift soak

I woke up this morning at 2:45.  Checked phone for messages.  No emergencies.  So I go up to the hot-tub for my 15-minute soak before my 4AM shift starts.  Gorgeous - almost full moon - clear skies - enough wind to make the moon's reflection a dynamic shimmering dance.  After what is more like 30 minutes it is time to get to the lab or I'll miss my coffee before work.  Ok. Fire up the espresso maker.  That's better. 

Photo of the real-time display of turbulent dissipation 5AM, Nov 25

Finally I settle into my routine... and holy #$)%$@ !!! Here we are at a new station that is located at a sharp bend in the canyon and the ocean is churning in a thick layer of turbulence that extends almost 400 m off the bottom.  You can see this in the orange and red regions in the lower right corner of the plot to the right.  

So... after sampling at three previous stations where the mixing has been moderate but not exceptionally strong... it looks like we have found what we came for.  It'll take a few days to make sense of it all, but at least initially, it looks as though this might be the place where much of the canyon's energy is dissipated.

What's so special about this place?  Not exactly sure... but we're at a sharp bend on the canyon (Station 5 in the map posted by amy a few days ago...), so it is possible that the internal tides that are headed up the canyon can't negotiate the corner without breaking?  Possibly it is also the cliff just north of us that is creating a swirling mess of currents that are mixing the canyon up.  

Time for some herbal tea to calm the excitement.  Need to keep up the methodical routine.  Sample Sample Sample.  Off to a new station this afternoon further offshore to see how far this mixing extends into the abyss.  Stay tuned.   

But bad weather is returning to our area and will cause us to change plans.  Message just came in from the Captain on the Bridge.

"G'day All,
   Current weather predictions do not look favorable for mooring recovery 28th-30th recommend you recover them prior to storm arrival.  I estimate we will be hove to with nothing in the water due to rough sea & swell on 29th & 30th. See and" 

Oh... this formidable and unforgiving North Pacific Ocean....  

24 November 2012

posted Nov 25, 2012, 12:39 AM by Amy Waterhouse

Today was yet another day spent doing CTD profiles in Eel canyon. We recovered the CTD in the morning and moved further towards the mouth of the canyon (Station 5) and will be here until tomorrow afternoon. From there, we are going to do profiles along the steep canyon walls.

There are some interesting signals coming back from the shipboard ADCP - showing mode-one velocities in the along canyon direction with much higher mode velocities in the cross-channel direction. Once we have the velocity data back from the lowered ADCPs and moorings, we will be able to make more sense of what these signals look like down deep too!

Similar to most days out here, we are still surrounded by a cavalry of birds. Two particular albatross were fascinated with the CTD today and spent most of the day sitting right next to where the wire goes into the water. The ship deck cameras even caught a picture of them.

Our two CTD wire watchers: Laysan Albatross (

Tonight's science moment came in the way of Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic. There are just so many similarities between this movie and the trip we are on... maybe we will even see the elusive jaguar shark!

23 November 2012: Halfway mark!

posted Nov 23, 2012, 11:25 PM by Amy Waterhouse   [ updated Nov 23, 2012, 11:31 PM ]

Smooth sailing today!

on the back deck with Captain Dave, enjoying the flat seas and bright sun

The wind dropped, the sun came out and the sunfish were flapping - leaving us to our post-thanksgiving science in Eel canyon. Doing 30 hour CTD-LADCP stations are long, however, they will give us crucial information about the energy flux that is going up (or down?) the canyon. We won't know the full direction of the energy flux until we get the data downloaded from the ADCPs that are attached to the CTD. We are slowly making our way out towards the mouth of the canyon and are currently at station 6. Tomorrow morning we are moving on to station 5 with only 4 more days of CTD profiling to go (and 3 more stations to do).

Map of our stations within Eel Canyon

Our Science moment of the day was brought to us by Alfredo who talked about dispersive waves. A great introduction to the differences between shallow water, deep water and capillary waves!

Alfredo explaining dispersion with a neat movie he made

While both the morning and afternoon shifts got to enjoy the wonderful weather while they were working, the night shift (8pm to 4am watch) was back to working in the twilight. I polled them (as well as our two wonderful techs - Josh and Kris) about their personal highlights of the day.

Here are the results:

Ruth: enjoying the upper deck hot tub at 4am after her night shift and seeing many shoosting stars

Michael: waking up at 430pm and stumbling up the stair well, ending up on the back deck (with his eyes half-closed) to catch a most  magnificent sunset.

Hanne: Lying on the back deck in the early evening watching the fluid motion of the fog above her head to see the turbulence as well as sitting on the bow to catch the morning sunrise. [Someone might have heard her sing: "Hey Mom, if you can see me now… arms spread wide… on the starboard bow"]

Josh: Purchasing an iPhone!

Kris: basking in the sun out on the back deck in the afternoon with Beethoven

Jonathan: enjoying his first breakfast in days of working the night shift [Note: he waited up from 4am until 730am to eat it!]

Paul: Success in completely taking apart, sanding and re-painting the previously frozen travel block and then enjoying a [well deserved] hot tub

Paul fixing, sanding and painting the travel block on this calm day at sea

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