Exploring hydrothermal vents - Summer research 2004
January 2004 was the beginning of my final undergraduate semester at DePaul University. I was consumed with finishing classes to complete my degree in environmental science, writing my thesis, enjoying life in Chicago without basketball, and trying to figure out what to do with myself upon graduation in June. It was at this point that I was approached by Dr. Tom Murphy, my advisor and the chair of DePaul's environmental science program, about working for one of his former students on an oceanographic research cruise. That former student was JISAO's Dr. Joe Resing and the opportunity he gave me to work with him and his colleagues has been one of the defining experiences of my life.
Before I knew it, I was traveling to Suva, Fiji to meet Dr. Resing and the ship for a thirty-five day cruise in the Lau Basin located between the islands of Fiji and Tonga. Dr. Resing and his colleagues, Sharon Walker and Gary Massoth, were on this cruise to conduct hydrothermal plume surveys along various parts of the spreading ridge in order to get a better idea of volcanic activity on the sea floor and more specifically to compare hydrothermal venting in this back-arc basin to what occurs at mid-ocean ridges.
Resing and the team from the University of Washington, JISAO, and PMEL were joined by a group of scientists from the University of Hawaii that were also on the cruise to map the sea floor of the study area. Resing's group used an instrument package called a CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth), as well as established methods for measuring and mapping hydrothermal plumes to locate temperature and particle anomalies thousands of meters below the surface. When such anomalies occurred water samples were collected at the site in bottles attached to the CTD. Once the instrument was back on the ship my job was to help retrieve seawater samples from the bottles. Some of the chemical and biological testing of the seawater samples was done on the ship, while the rest was packaged and preserved for analysis back at PMEL.
I learned a lot from Dr. Resing and the experience that I had working with him on that cruise opened my eyes to a whole new world. Upon returning to Chicago I knew that I wanted to incorporate my science background into the oceanographic realm. A few months later, as luck would have it, an entry-level position opened up at the Hawaii Mapping Research Group at the University of Hawaii at Manoa with some of the people I had met while working with Dr. Resing. I applied and was hired and moved to Honolulu at the end of the summer in 2004. As a sonar/data systems technician for HMRG the past two and half years, I have been on eight more research cruises, traveling all over the Pacific Ocean, mapping areas from Easter Island to Papua New Guinea to American Samoa to the Gulf of Alaska and places in between. I was even fortunate to sail again with Dr. Resing on a research cruise investigating the spreading center north of the Galapagos Islands.
My life has definitely taken an interesting path since agreeing to go to Fiji and work with Dr. Resing. I've seen some spectacular places, experienced life at sea, worked with some amazing people, and learned a lot about myself the world we live in. Working with Dr. Resing provided me with an opportunity of a lifetime.