Daily reports from the ship are complete.

Day 36, October 31, 1998. October 31, 1998. We arrived in Honolulu bright and early on the morning of the 31st.  We were tied up just after 7:00 a.m. Many people waited anxiously for the gangway to be set up so they could set foot on land after 36 days at sea.  They didn't need to go far from the ship, just walk around on the dock, getting the feel of solid ground under their feet again.  We weren't quite done with our work though.

Day 35, October 30, 1998. This morning I woke up to the sound of waves slapping against the bow. We were on our way back to Honolulu. Up in the main lab, the 4:00 to 8:00 watch (Terry Naumann, Denny Geist, and Mike Avgerinos) were bagging the rubble from the final dredge.

Day 34, October 29, 1998. Core Locations MapAs the sun rose today, Tom Crook was bringing aboard the last of the transponders we had deployed for acoustical navigation 32 days ago. Gigabytes of sonar data and digital photographic imagery are stored on our computers, and a ton of rocks and glass chips are on board. It is 8 a.m., Day 35, and soon we will be bidding goodbye to our home for the last month. Once again, we will sail past the coastal lava entry from the Pu'u O'o eruption, a last reminder of the dynamic interactions between water and magma that we saw frozen on the Puna Ridge seafloor. It is time to call it a cruise.

Day 33, October 28, 1998. Dreding operationsOne more day of dredging and coring to go, and the negotiations about the final sites to hit have begun. As of Wednesday night, we have cored 46 sites and dredged 19. Friday we will motor back to Honolulu. Saturday morning we stagger onto shore. More frequently, the conversations turn to the beverages we are going to drink that first night back (skim milk and fresh prune juice, of course).

Day 32, October 27, 1998. Dredging operationsThe dredging and wax coring continues. Last night, we dragged the dredge up the side of a cone part way down into the crater. Then, just as a motorcycle stuntman vaults over a swimming pool filled with ravenous great white sharks, the dredge flew over the fiery cauldron and made a perfect landing on the far rim. (I’m exaggerating of course. The cauldron has not been fiery for quite some time.)

Day 31, October 26, 1998. Main labThe cruise will end in less than a week, and we are thinking more and more about life back on land. Things that we normally take for granted now seem fresh and exciting. I can’t wait to see a plant (living plants, not the ones I ate at the salad bar). The other day, a weary fly, the first insect I had seen in a month, buzzed onto the deck. The geologists around me did not share my enthusiasm.

Day 30, October 25, 1998. Wenlu working on computerFlashback! It’s October 6, day 11 of our voyage. Steve Gegg, master of data processing, utters these words. "We are accumulating sonar data at a rate that would fill 125 floppy disks every 15 minutes."

Day 29, October 24, 1998. Working on a dregeThroughout most of the trip, we’ve had to watch where we put our coffee down because maps cover all of the tables. Now new obstacles fill the main lab. There are rocks on the table, rocks on the floor, rocks in buckets, and rocks in bags.

Day 28, October 23, 1998. Recovering ARGOOur voyage has entered its third phase. No more sitting in the control van staring at pillow lavas on a video screen. Now we have a chance to hold the pillow lavas in our hands.

Day 27, October 22, 1998. Dennis Geist and Terry Naumann (L. Dolby)This research cruise differs from most others in that we are often in sight of land. On a clear day when we are working close to shore, I (and others) will take some time off, move to the bow away from the constant drone of the winch, and stare at the Big Island. The slopes on the island are gradual with few bumps or jagged edges. Yet the land is not featureless. Part way up the slope, clouds of steam billow up from a low but broad cone that has the classic look of a volcano. This is the Pu’u O’o crater. Just down slope, smaller puffs of steam rise from skylights in the lava tubes. In the far distance, it is possible to see steam generated when the lava enters the ocean.

Day 26, October 21, 1998. Star FishToday we finished our tour of the south flank. Early in the morning, ARGO II passed over a large crater. A series of depressions surrounded the crater. We took a closer look at these depressions and concluded that they were lava channels.

Day 25, October 20, 1998. Photo mosaic Last night, we started surveying one of the most intriguing areas of the ridge. Earlier we had mapped an area along the south flank of the ridge filled with pits, craters, and terraces perched on top of steep towering slopes, and now we want to take a closer look.

Day 24, October 19, 1998. Control VanTwo nights ago just before my watch began, Debbie Smith announced that there was no more to see on this line, so the flyer should pull up ARGO II and the ship should prepare to motor down the ridge to the next site. So I spent my watch in the lab, typed a little, played a little ping-pong, and watched Debbie and Frank Trusdell plot the course for the next line.

Day 23, October 18, 1998. Columnar JointingIt’s a time of little sleep and of long days in the control van watching the video monitors. At 7:30 last night, the vigil paid off. ARGO II had just come over the top of a large cone on the crest of the ridge and was exploring the lip of the crater. According to the sonar data, this is the largest cone on the ridge and resembles the cones on the subaerial portion of Kilauea. The other domes on the ridge have either flat or collapsed tops and more gradual slopes.

Day 22, October 17, 1998. Pillow LavaImagine trying to find a tennis ball in a field. It is dark, and all you have is a flashlight that you must keep pointed down. Or imagine trying to decipher a giant mural in the dark. All you have is a small pen light with a battery that will soon go dead. Photographing features on Puna Ridge with ARGO II provides somewhat the same feeling. We are trying to interpret a massive volcanic ridge by shining a light on small pieces of it.

Day 21, October 16, 1998. Argo II LaunchThis morning at 7:15, Kevin Johnson, Laura Kong, Tim Dulaney, Mike Avgerinos, and Mike Relander wearily entered the galley and silently ate their breakfast. They had just finished the 16th and final wax core. The wax core marathon had been a success. Most of the cores had yielded chunks of black, sparkling glass, an indication of relatively recent eruptions. Much more analysis will come later.

Day 20, October 15, 1998. Science MeetingThe experience of living and working on a ship takes some getting used to. One can never fully adjust to the strange hours, the floor that rocks constantly beneath us, and the isolation from the rest of the world. Yet our lives have also settled into a pattern. We go on our watches at the same time every day and perform the same tasks. We eat our meals from 7:15 to 8:00, 11:30 to 12:15, and 5:00 to 6:00. Each afternoon we have a science meeting. And through it all, the sonar data roll in slowly but steadily. This daily routine has made the adjustment to life on board easier, but after twenty days, people are ready for a change. Now the routine has come to an end, and it is both exciting and a little disorienting.

Day 19, October 14, 1998. Wen Lu ZuThis morning I gazed at the vibrant colors on the sonar screen for perhaps the last time. We were mapping a crossing line close to shore that took us over the top of a seamount. Towing the DSL 120 across the ridge rather than down the axis is challenging. The slopes are far steeper so the flyers must remain alert. Tonight we finish the final crossing line then complete some final lines along the ridge axis. Tomorrow morning, the DSL group will pull the DSL 120 on board for the final time and prepare the ARGO II for its first descent. I’ll then have a whole new suite of watch duties that will involve multiple monitors.

Day 18, October 13, 1998. Tim Dulaney, Laura Kong, and Kevin Johnson (L. Dolby)There was a lot of excitement around the map tables this morning. At about 4:00 a.m., we finished mapping the final swath along the southern flank of Puna Ridge and pulled the DSL 120 back on board. Laura Kong, Kevin Johnson and Tim Dulaney pieced together the sonar images from the five swaths and came up with a remarkable picture. The sonar images clearly showed a giant crater and large lava flows that had recently erupted from it.

Day 17, October 12, 1998. Flow CartoonWe are at the half way point of our cruise, and this Daily Flash is written from my perspective. Everyone is working very hard to make the cruise a success, and the data that we have collected to date are providing exciting new views of the submarine Puna Ridge. We have already learned a lot about the volcanic and tectonic processes acting at the Puna Ridge, and it has been especially exciting for me.

Day 16, October 11, 1998. R/V Thompson Engine RoomDespite our tropical location, a sweatshirt is a necessity on board. Most of the rooms on the ship are kept quite cool. Four hours of sitting in the control van and you think you are in New England during a chilly fall day. There is, however, a short section of the passageway on the main level where you can briefly experience tropical warmth. Walk through the door on the side of the passage, and you have entered a whole new climate zone. You have entered the engine room.

Day 15, October 10, 1998. Contour map of ship tracks and southern flankLets say you can walk down the spine of Puna Ridge. You pick your way across craters, fissures, and lava flows until you are 1,000 meters underwater. From there you turn right and slide for five miles down the south flank to a depth of 3,000 meters. You will arrive in a landscape of steep terraces and multiple pits.

Day 14, October 9, 1998. Jennfier Mercer plotting positionsThis ship is filled with computers of every size and shape. These computers contain software that processes the data, organizes information, and generates colorful maps of anything you can think of. Yet many of the most basic analysis techniques come down to one simple tool—the colored pencil.

Day 13. October 8, 1998. Recovering the DSL 120Today we map the sixth and final swath along the top of the ridge. The results are fantastic, especially considering the difficulty of the terrain. Puna Ridge. The scientists on board depend on clear sonar images for their research. Once again, the DSL Group—Tom Crook, Skip Gleason, Matt Naiman, Jim Varnum, and Will Sellers—has provided them.

Day 12. October 7, 1998. Food and CratersFive swaths down, and Puna Ridge is taking shape. We are amazed at the number of cratered volcanoes we are finding at the top of the ridge. It is fun to try to imagine what Puna Ridge must have been like when these volcanoes formed.

Day 11. October 6, 1998. Steve GeggOne hundred and twenty-five floppy disks every 15 minutes. That is how much data the DSL 120 produces 24 hours a day as it maps a swath of Puna Ridge. In its rawest form, the data from the DSL 120 is a series of numbers. These data then undergo a series of complex transformations. The result is a series of colorful, accurate maps showing the contours and features of Puna Ridge. Let’s follow this metamorphosis from numbers to maps.

Day 10. October 5, 1998. Exciting Sonar ImagesCones, craters, rivers of lava pouring from the top and streaming down. For most people, that is the essence of volcanism. So imagine our excitement when the sonar images revealed these very features on Puna Ridge.

Day 9. October 4, 1998. Kevin Johnson Examines A RockLooking down from the deck into the water, it is hard to imagine the history of dramatic events that have gone on right beneath us. The sonar images give us a picture of what is down there. But there is nothing like solid evidence that you can hold in your hand.

Day 8. October 3, 1998. Jennifer ReynoldsOn any long cruise, plans can change for reasons that are beyond anybody’s control. Today it was choppy seas that forced us to do things a little differently and added some real nail-biting suspense.

Day 7. October 2, 1998. Side-scan sonar of the Puna RidgeExcellent data come rolling in after determining a new survey strategy at the Puna Ridge. Because of the steep bumpy terrain we have found it is better to tow the fish downhill.

Day 6. October 1, 1998. Science MeetingIt's an exciting time to be on board the ship. After a week of loading boxes, setting up computers, deploying transponders, and mapping transects, the data are finally pouring in.

Day 5. September 30, 1998. DSL 120 Is WorkingImagine running down the sidewalk dragging a cart that is attached to a ten-foot rope. You make a sudden turn, but the cart does not. Instead it smashes into a tree. You run down a hill, but the cart catches up to you and the rope trips you up.

Day 4. September 29, 1998. Watches BeginIf you are going to be on this ship, you better be prepared to work strange hours. The research and data gathering does not stop when the sun goes down. It continues 24 hours a day. Remember that it takes 35 hours for the ship to tow the DSL 120 from one end of the ridge to the other. So there must always be people in the control van making sure that the vehicle stays on course, avoids hitting something, and that the side-scan sonars continue to provide data.

Day 3. September 28, 1998. Dropping the wax corer over boardToday the data-collection began. Everybody gathered on the deck to snap pictures of the core sample from the bottom, then of the crane lowering the DSL 120 into the water.

Day 2. September 27, 1998. Studying an active volcano adds a lot of excitement to our voyage. Water PlumesToday, we saw some of this activity. As we sailed up the southeast coast of the Big Island, giant white plumes containing water vapor and hydrochloric acid came into view. Lava erupting from Pu’u ’O’o along the East Rift Zone flows downhill for 12 kilometers and into the sea, generating large clouds of steam.

Day 1. September 26, 1998. Removing the gang plankMy first clue that something was happening came when I casually glanced out a portal in the main laboratory. Instead of the familiar view of the dock, I saw water. The ship was moving. We were finally on our way.