Science Questions

By Iris Clyne

Sep. 30, 1998. We've finished our first transect line and information is starting to come in. The principle investigators are trying to keep up with generating maps. They need to always keep clear where we are, were we want to get data from, and what does the information we're getting look like. Sonar from the DSL 120 allows us to see formations, structures, slopes, flows, etc. The scientists have 3 general questions they are trying to answer with this information:

How are dikes (lava flowing through vertical fractures) coming from Kilauea's summit able to feed Puna Ridge (It's 55 to 130 kilometers away)?

What controls the change in slope of the Puna Ridge? Could it be due to a change in the magma supply or in the makeup of the lava?

What is the effect of environmental conditions on the shapes and styles of volcanic features?

There are some pretty fancy software applications to help generate visual pictures of what it looks like below us. Everyone is keeping busy either on watch in the control van, looking over the data and getting it into a form that can be useful for interpretation, and getting enough sleep to continue to function. But there always seems to be time for a little solitary on the bow with the ocean waves and wind, a walk around the ship or a workout in the exercise room. There is an extensive video library aboard in the TV room as well as a library. If you were out to sea for a full month what would you do with your time?