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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans


December 16, 2016

Geology Rocks!

Ed Sweeney, B-watch, 1st Assistant Scientist

Ocean Exploration

The science whiteboard – taking photos of the coastline from the ship isn’t as spectacular as the drawings of the S-270 crew in the science lab.

Current Position
37° 35.3’ S x 128° 22.5’ E

Ship’s Heading & Speed
275° True

Sail Plan
Motorsailing under the stays’ls – starboard tack

Weather
Windy, Sunny and Bumpy

Souls on Board

As we make our way up the coast of the North Island, I’m continually amazed with the sights of the coastline here in New Zealand. The geology is amazing! And we are right now in the heart of it all – spectacular cliff escarpments… volcanic mountain ranges (see picture-to-scale for reference)… uplifted strata… evidence of a landmass undergoing some serious tectonic strains and active geological processes. 

The students and staff got a close up view of the coastline during afternoon class today as we anchored in a small sheltered harbor called Hick’s Bay for student presentations, a beautiful arena of topographic and geological character – we had rolling green hillsides and eroded mountain bluffs exposing underlying rock stratigraphy draped with foliage. In fact, with water temp’s reaching a balmy 17.3 Celsius, we were allowed a quick dip in the NZ waters to get the water level vantage point, and an all-hands-dinner at anchor to further soak up the landscape scenery.

And that’s not to mention what’s going on at the seafloor below us, the seaward shelf extension of the land in front, or rather currently to the port side of us. Our Chirp acoustic subbottom profiler has been showing laminated horizontal sediment reflectors (marine sediments lying parallel on top of each other – indicating thousands of years of sediment deposits!), subsea hills, valleys, peaks, erosive contacts… it’s a good way for the students to connect the exposed aerial topography on land to what’s going on with the marine geology offshore.

For the more biologically-minded of us out there (I can’t leave you out!), today we’ve had our array of seabirds, such as shearwaters, terns and albatross, as well as aquatic megafauna (we saw several Mola mola or ocean sun fish swimming at the surface waters!) - pretty amazing to see these organisms in the environment that they’re so well adapted to live in - as we struggle to adjust our sails and push through the headseas, they glide along the surface of the water with ease and grace, barely flapping a wing. It’s been great to see the students, now well-seasoned seabirders, being able to differentiate species of our ocean-dwelling feathered friends. 

Friends and fam of the Robert C. Seamans S-270 crew! I will leave you with a few geologically inspired Haiku poems from our own Seaman’s Haiku Corner (cue dimly lit coffee house quarterdeck scene and maybe a standup bass):

Haiku 1
Cliffs in the distance
Volcanoes not yet in sight
Igneous anticipation

Haiku 2
Chirp pinging lightly
Ensonifying the past
Inundated now

Haiku 3
Tectonic plates crash
Bumper cars of moving crust
Right of way ignored

Haiku 4
Magma rising up
Freed from mantle confinement
Like Nate’s pinky toe

- Ed

PS – Hi Holly! Hope you like the geologically themed blog! Miss you!
PPS – Hi Sweeney sisters (if you’re reading this)!! I miss you!! Talk to you when I get back to Auckland… nyar!!

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Ocean Exploration, • Topics: s270  science  research • (0) Comments
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