Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day Three Debrief

It is the end of day three and we are really starting to hit our stride with the science goals that we have set for the deepworker component of the project. Our launches are more efficient and with our increasing ability to have effective debriefing meetings, we are learning a lot from our collective experiences. We are also increasingly getting a handle on mission planning and are benefiting hugely by the direct planning of missions by the science/pilot team. We can use our experiences in our initial dives to determine what future dives hold priority and how to manage scheduling and optimize resources. We are continuing to develop as a team with common goals of advancing our scientific program as well as developing approaches to operational planning and metrics.

In terms of our science goals, we are making excellent progress in addressing our original hypotheses as well as formulating new ones and new directions for this deployment. This is really highlighting the strength of advanced, informed planning, as well as the equal importance of the ability to adjust planning during the project to adapt to new information and insights.

One of our primary research goals is to investigate the role of groundwater in the Pavilion Lake system and its potential contributions to the microbialite formation. This is being addressed by deepworker dives focused on exploring the correlation of microbialites with different geological settings. Much of the north basin, where we began our dive program, is underlain by granite. Such a granite basement would be expected to have relatively little groundwater flow and as such, our hypothesis is that there would be fewer microbialite structures associated with this environment. And our results so far are supporting this hypothesis as very little microbialite structure was observed. The only exception was the region where our research transect was located, which is in fact associated with the only section of argillite/scree slope shoreline where groundwater might be expected.

In our more recent dives in the south basin, microbialite structures have been plentiful. And we are continuing to assess the association of these structures with the potential of groundwater inputs. We have also recently hypothesized that whitish clouds observed during some dives may be associated with groundwater inputs. This new observation and hypothesis is planned to be tested in the coming days using a CTD that will be attached to one of the Deepworkers.

Overall, our progress is excellent and our initial data is really exciting. We are all enthusiastic to continue this exploration and to utilize the unique insights available through the deepworkers to address our scientific questions about this incredibly interesting site. Greg Slater, McMaster

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