SUB1 Log 5 - July 25th

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Last night we had our first equipment failure, as the multi-corer handled by Mirko Magagnini came up completely empty with no traces of sediment anywhere to be found. The first guess as to why this happened was that even though we have excellent acoustic monitoring of the bottom, perhaps there was a glitch and the multi-corer did not reach the sea floor. Later the speculation was that there was a problem with the winch and that the cable stopped short of the seafloor. At the moment the consensus seems to be the latter. Well another attempt was made and one of the cores did fill with sediment. Which again looked completely different than the previous samples. It was a very light mustard color with a large gray pocket on one side of the plastic tube. This morning I looked at the sieve and the contents of the dry sediment from the day before: there were lots of very small fragments of shells, which glittered in the sun.

Looking for gold?

Alessandra Savini Multi Beam Mapping

Alessandra Savini, our geologist, spent all night carrying out multi-beam mapping of the sea floor from our last station, found at the end of our vertical transect line, and then heading west toward Sicily and the GEO position. The GEO position is where an active earthquake monitor is located. We will be spending the whole day here sampling and running tests. The mapping by Alessandra will help complete the picture of this area, which she already started on a previous cruise. She will merge both sets of data to get the final results. She said that interesting features were found, which she will show me later.

I spent a little time with Christian Tamburini, a microbiologist specialized in deep-sea high-pressure technology and with his student Marc Garel.
They are using stainless steel pressurized containers, which keeps the collected specimens (bacteria) alive without any change to the environmental conditions (pressure and temperature).This allows comparative studies between non-pressurized and pressurized collections, so as to test the level of adaptation of bacterial populations to the deep sea conditions, by means of testing their sensitivity to water pressure changes. The first high pressure apparatus was designed in the 1970s by Professor Bianchi, a French scientist, and the last generation (the fourth) used on board was developed in 1999. Each cylinder has a piston which forces the water sample forward to a pressurized container at the same pressure level as the sample was taken. All of this is assisted by a computer, using a ‘piloted pressure generator’ developed last year.
Christian Tamburini and the High Pressure Cylinders

Incubation of samples with labeled or fluorescent substrate takes between 10 and 12 hours. And then, time is used to wash and sterilize the bottles before they can be used again.

Least you think we are all work and no play, last night was dedicated to sangria and song. Peppe played guitar in the canteen, and was accompanied by our team, the crew in a medley of Italy’s greatest hit songs. So you can imagine it was a slow start for some. I am promised a star show this evening like I’ve never seen before … glowing bacteria. Until tomorrow, I am Siri Campbell reporting from the CIESM SUB 1.

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