Godzilla & Bambi

Daniel and Katharine

One of the presentations at the DO-IT Summer Study was on oceanography, given by Courtenay Wilkerson. She spoke for an hour, with the aid of a poster and videotape. In 1991 a group of scientists dove off Hawaii and the coast of Washington. The talk was about the dive off the Washington coast because of the two sulfur formations found there.

These formations were observed with the help of a human operated machine, Alvin, and a remote control robot, Jason. Alvin is capable of holding three people--one pilot and two scientists. It has an arm that can be controlled by its crew. It can be used for taking temperatures and collecting specimens. Jason is used for getting closer to the formations and taking photographs. It filmed the full- color video used in the presentation. Jason is operated solely from the surface.

Courtenay mainly talked about the sulfur formation because it is the largest one that has been found. It is the shape of a collumn, about 45 meters high. There is a smaller formation that accompanies it which is only 4 to 5 meters high. They have been named Godzilla and Bambi, for obvious reasons.

On Godzilla, there are "smokers," holes releasing a substance resembling black smoke. A smoker is water that is hotter than the surrounding water, so it smokes out. The water that comes out of the smokers is about boiling temperature. At a depth of 2200, the boiling temperature is 375 degrees. This increase in boiling temperature is a result of greater water pressures. Off the side of it were formations that looked like mushroom tops. They are called flanges. The flanges are made from sulfide material and hold hot water from the smoker below it.

Of the many areas of science we were exposed to in the two weeks, this was one of the more fascinating.