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Walvis Ridge MV1203 Expedition

Daily Science Report 19 -- Thursday, 1 March 2012


We have spent the past few days surveying and dredging (or trying to dredge) a very large seamount and several small seamounts surrounding it. The seamount appeared so large on our map that we decided it had to be named Moby-Dick. It took us 10 hours to survey around its perimeter and then 2 dredge sites were planned. Unfortunately neither of these yielded very much at all. The first brought up almost nothing, and we retained only a small fragment of highly-altered basalt. The second brought up several tubs of manganese crusts, but a coral was the only major find of the dredge.

After this disappointment we headed south to a string of 3 small, young seamounts that we hoped would give us some fresh basalts. However, it was not to be. On our first dredge, the entire winch cable snapped off several hundred meters above the dredge itself and the entire dredge was lost. Fortunately one of our ship technicians was able to fix and rewire the cable and attach a new dredge within 1 hour and we continued our dredging of the flank of this small volcano. This dredge did bring in some interesting and unusual rocks that we are looking forward to examining in the lab. At the next small seamount, however, we once again lost our dredge! It became stuck on the bottom and broke off, leaving us with an empty chain when we pulled it to the surface.

We are getting the distinct feeling that the seamount wants to drive us away. Like Ahab, whose leg was taken by the White Whale, we have lost two of our dredges within a day of our encounter with the White Seamount (aptly named because it is covered with sediment). At the moment we are making haste away from this area, first to survey Wust seamount to the southwest, and then northward to Rachel seamount. This latter name was chosen because the Rachel is the ship that comes to rescue the remaining sailors after most of the crew of the Pequod is lost following the attack of Moby Dick. Let's hope for better luck in the next dredges!

Susan Schnur