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> July 25, 2006
post Jul 28 2006, 02:02 AM
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Group: TREC Team
Posts: 27
Joined: 19-July 06
Member No.: 39

It doesn't take long for the dirty clothes pile to build up. Today was washday for me, the first of the cruise. The scientist's 12 to 16 hour days leave little time for the simple necessities like clean clothes, sleep, and the occasional shower. Everyone is finally settling into his or her own personal routine. Schedules and watch standing groups were changed today in preparation for the new tasks that are, we hope, just a couple of days ahead.

I learned to monitor the ethylene glycol pump for the air guns. Expanding air that is emitted from the guns as they produce sound cools very rapidly. This can cause ice to form on the gun and its working parts. To prevent this, a small amount of ethylene glycol is injected into the airline to prevent freezing. This is just one of a hundred little tasks that must me monitored to make the seismic work successful.

Harm and Peggy work working on the final construction and assembly of the antenna stands. They need to make 20 total using PVC pipe, pipe connectors and pipe cement. They had tested two possible designs and decided that the H design worked the best. After a couple hours of measuring, cutting and gluing the stands were done.

Peggy and Harm complete assembly of antenna stands

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Talked with Joseph our pilot at lunch today. Joseph is one of our helicopter pilots and has been flying for 42 years. He has flown for the military and is currently doing a variety of contract flying. He mentioned that he had shuttled 14 helicopters from Louisiana to Alaska over the past years. He said when looking for a good piece of ice to land on, look for those that are flat and have no dark areas. The dark areas indicate melted water. Under all situations, you need to be ready to take off in a hurry.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent learning the basics of how the air compressors worked and helping Matt and Russell finish attaching all of the air guns to the cage. There will be 4 GI and 4 bolt guns on the cage. Depending on the type of seismic survey we will be doing, we can choose how many, what type, and how deep the guns should go. Once we get to our first station, everything should be ready to go.

Russell and Matt work on installing air guns

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We have three diesel compressors that have to operate the guns at 2000 psi. One is used as the main, the second is running as a backup incase there are problems with the fist, and the third is here as our last resort. These were shipped up to Alaska from down south. One of the issues with the engines is that they are set up for warm weather operation. It took a half hour to get the diesel motor up to their operating temperature and an hour more to warm the 17 gallons of oil in the compressor sump before we were able to pump air the first time.

By late afternoon, the guns were all attached to the cage. The next item on the day's agenda was to find the balance point for the cage. MST Chad operated the 9/16th crane and MST Amy connected the cage to the cable. After three tries, we had found the new balance point. All that was needed was to change a few bolts to secure the guns and add a second set of chains to the suspended guns and we would be ready to go.

Our goal was to get the seismic gear all set up by today. Jay, our seismic equipment t expert had remained on the cruise for the first week to train everyone on specific tasks. Now that things were in order, today was the day that he would start his way back home.

The helicopter left the ship at 7:55. Jay was aboard to head home, and Anatoly was aboard to test the antenna on the helicopter to learn how far away the remote receiver could detect the seismic instruments that are to be deployed on the ice. A seismic unit was placed on deck, and Anatoly tested the transmission distance of the unit out and back on the flight to Barrow.

The helicopter was back on deck by 9:15. We secured all the gear and guns on the fantail and at 9:30 started our way north to our first station. By 10:30 we were breaking ice. The ship rocked and pitched as it settled into a natural rhythm as it plowed through the ice.

End of the watch

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