On the 21st of July, we had the first Nautile dive of the expedition. Everything went quite smoothly from start to end. The most amazing thing about this dive was the starting depth at 6010m. We are talking about 6 km of water sitting on top of this little yellow submersible and its titanium alloy sphere containing human beings! The mechanics of the Nautile worked perfectly and finally 20 samples of rocks were recovered from the seafloor.
The deployment and recovery of the Nautile are quite stressful and complex operations where the Captain is always present on the working deck and several sailors help with the crane and security wires to stabilize the Nautile during the uplift from/to the water. A team of sailor and engineers is also always in the water with a zodiac with two divers in the water performing the last checks on the submersible before its free descent into the abyss and to recover the engineer sitting on top of the submersible that attaches/removes the hook from the submersible.
On to celebrative news, our very own PhD student Lena was the scientist on board the second Nautile dive which happened today! First UNIMORE member ever to dive! Well done Lena!!!
We will certainly have Lena writing a blog entry on this experience as soon as she has cooled off a bit! There are many things to do after the dive. She will first unload the rocks from the tray below the Nautile and reconstruct the sampling order. Then after a good meal and night of sleep tomorrow morning she will sit down with the chief scientists and watch the continuous video recording of the seafloor done during the dive and match observations and features on the high-resolution map.
So for now enjoy the pictures of the first dive operations (scientists watching, Nautile leaving, technicians and scientists following the parameters and position of the Nautile on a screen, return of the Nautile) and of Lena just before departing!!! Stay tuned for our next adventures into the abyss!