Saturday, November 6, 2004
Matthew A. Russell has been an
archeologist with the National Park Service Submerged Resources
Center since 1993. He serves as Project Director for the USS
Arizona Preservation Project.
Despite the best
intentions of the Honolulu weather forecasters, they got it wrong today.
Luckily for us it worked in our favor. The day dawned bright and sunny,
and today it held out until well after we’d left the Memorial (as I
write this at 9:00 pm Saturday night, its dumping rain out). Because we
finished our primary task for the first week of fieldwork, today we
cleaned up loose ends and took on an ambitious task for a Saturday –
retrieving, downloading, calibrating, repositioning and redeploying the
SonTek and YSI probes.
A view from below. An
on Arizona's starboard gunwale.
NPS photo by Brett Seymour.
Since November 2002
we’ve had two long-term data collection instruments installed on
Arizona: a SonTek wave height/direction and current speed/direction
meter, and a YSI multiparameter probe measuring pH, dissolved oxygen,
temperature, salinity, conductivity and several other variables. Both
instruments can be set-up to collect data autonomously, so we can
program them to record to an internal hard drive for up to 60 days at a
time. For the past two years, Marshall Owens, Jenni Burbank and the rest
of the Memorial dive team have been downloading the information and
changing batteries every couple of months. We decided to pull the
instruments from the water permanently at the end of the month, but we
need a final two weeks of data from a new location, and thus today’s
Kelly Gleason and Matt Russell work with one
of the probes used for long-term data collection on the site.
NPS photo by Dave Conlin.
Kelly Gleason and I put
the final touches on the epoxy job this morning, while Dave Conlin and
Jenni retrieved the SonTek and YSI instruments, which after nearly two
months underwater were wildly overgrown with a menagerie of marine life
(or, biofouling, as we call it – much to the chagrin of marine
biologists everywhere). Meanwhile Don Johnson and Brett Seymour, joined
by Don’s niece Sheryl (a scientist herself), spent the day in a dank,
dark dive locker back at the Visitor Center, measuring density on the
twelve concretion samples we’ve collected over the past week – not a
pleasant job, but our team of intrepid scientists (and one bewildered
photographer) persevered and completed their appointed task (see the
Research Rationale for
why we think things like concretion density are important). Back on the
Memorial, the probes have to be scrubbed and cleaned, then re-calibrated
before the can be put back on site. Instrument calibration day is the
bane of the Memorial dive team’s existence – for two years they’ve been
doing it diligently six times a year, but its never easy. Today was no
exception. The job of calibrating fell to Kelly and me, while Dave,
Jenni and Art took care of other things. Each parameter has to be
meticulously calibrated with a different solution or standard, and the
whole process spun on endlessly until we’d finally completed the
task. We handed the probe off to Dave and Jenni, who placed it in its
new location. The SonTek, on the other hand, stubbornly refused to
upload its data faster than a snail’s pace, so we had to bring it back
to the hotel. (I’ll connect it to the laptop as soon as I’m done writing
this.) When Dave and Jenni finished, we tidied up the workroom and dock,
as tomorrow we have a much-needed day off. We’ll be back at it first
thing Monday for the start of week two.
USS Missouri stands watch over
Arizona. NPS photo by Brett Seymour.