Just as the sun set on our first day on station, we deployed our first box core of the cruise. We had spent days beforehand prepping it with new wires and elastic cords to ensure that it was in top condition for its 6 hour journey to the seafloor and back.
The box core is an excellent piece of sampling equipment because it takes a large chunk of mud out of the seafloor and brings it to the surface, mostly undisturbed. Our samples come up topped off with a layer of top-water and a sprinkling of polymetallic nodules. Once the box core is on deck, our team works quickly to drain off the top water and remove and rinse all the nodules while carefully retaining all the wash water in a sieve to catch all the tiny, microscopic organisms that were pulled up from the depths. It’s important to keep these animals as cold as possible to keep them from degrading before they can be preserved. We will take them back to the lab in Hawaii where they will be sorted and identified.
After the nodules are removed, the mud is removed from the box in sections up to 10cm deep. This mud is also sieved and the animals are preserved for later identification.
The box core can bring up a cube of mud over 40cm deep, so, after the samples are removed, there is lots of mud to be tossed overboard and sent back to the depths. This is when things get really muddy! Who wants a deep-sea spa treatment?
Written By: Cassandra Turner, University of Hawaii at Manoa