November 30, 1995
Location: 59 59í South Latitude x 154 20í West Longitude
We crossed the Mid Pacific Ridge today at about 12:00 pm. This was the
highlight of the week for the Geophysicists from Texas. It was like a
geological grand opening, as they watched the multibeam sonar plotter
produce maps of the sea floor near the ridge. The ridge appeared as a high
linear crest. On either side, the seafloor sloped away. This was the
location where the two pacific tectonic plates meet. The pressure of the
plates movements is resolved by twisting and bending the sea floor to
produce mountains and ridges. The ridges and sea mounts that we have been
locating over the last few days are evidence of these great forces at
The magnetometer registered an major magnetic anomaly at the ridge
zone. The movement of the plates forces the crust below to liquefy,
creating an area of molten rock. As this molten rock cools into new crust,
the iron is magnetized by the earthís magnetic field. Since the new crust
is near to the surface, it has a much stronger magnetic pull that the
crust around it. This area of higher magnetism is called a magnetic
The anticipation of events like reaching the Mid Pacific ridge help
make each day exciting from the scientific perspective. We are on the
final leg of our cruise and have less than 1500 miles to go. If the
weather remains clear, that means we have six or seven days until we reach
Most of the crew and science parties have settled into a daytime
routine. Those of us who are on the night watch sometimes can feel a
little out of touch with the what happens during the day time on the ship.
This evening was a time for everyone to get together. We planned a movie
night. There was plenty of pop and pop corn for everyone. We watched the
ìPrincess Brideî. It was good to have everyone together. The stresses and
concerns of everyoneís duties could be set aside for a few hours. It was a
nice time to relax and enjoy one another's company and laughter.
The sun actually set, giving us over three hours of night. We finally
traveled far enough north so that the sunís daily cycle has returned. It
is wonderful to witness a true sunrise and sunset again. The sky has never
seemed bluer than this morning as the sunrise christened a lovely clear
day. Wisps of clouds were a minor intrusion on the endless blue sky. As
the day continued, thicker banks of clouds moved up from on the horizon.
The winds have been calm, and the waves moderate, making for a quite ride
on the ship.
We had another time change today. They come so frequently now that it
is hard to keep track. Our clocks are getting a good workout as we set and
reset the times. Everyone takes the changes in stride. When they come in
the middle of the day, that means a longer time between meals. The only
ones that grumble are our stomachs. The time changes mean an extra hour of
sleep for most, but it also means an extra hour of watch for some unlucky
It has been a calm and peaceful day. Thoughts are obviously changing
among the science staffs and crew to going home. Talk is of travel plans
in New Zealand, and getting home for the holidays are common. Each of us
has left loved ones behind to parcticipate in this cruise. Sometimes it is
difficult to not have them in your thoughts constantly. There are times
when you wish that those special people in your lives were here to share
things with you.
Being at sea is both lonely and exhilarating. It is sometimes hard to
balance the myriad of feeling that you have each day. You have to find a
way to bring some sense of harmony between your work and your feelings.
This is a once in a lifetime trip for all of us in many ways. Many of the
crew, support staff, and science parties will return to Antarctica, but
the ever changing face of the Antarctic will make their next visit
different and unique.
Antarctica is like no other place that I have ever been. Nature takes
the center stage, and people are resigned to be spectators. It will
forever be a place that calls to the adventurer and scientist, but its
secrets will not be easily given up.
Stone Prairie: Thank you Mark, and first grade for the nice message.
Please send any questions that you may have.