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    Image Courtesy of Tim Killeen

From: Tim Killeen
Hydrate Ridge, Pacific Ocean, September 8, 2009

The Journey to the Ocean Floor

We clambered into the Alvin. Once inside, there wasn't much space for the three of us to move around. The "cabin" is a sphere made out of welded titanium metal and it's about the size of a small walk-in closet (or think about a very small car). The pilot sits in the middle and the two observers each have a window to look out of and each can control a movable camera and lighting system. The descent was quite quick - maybe 30 minutes - and, after dropping below the surface, the sub felt very stable as it descended. Lots of life floated by the window on descent as the water became darker and darker. Eventually it was pitch back except for fluorescent creatures with very strange shapes. Bruce, the pilot, slowed us down as we approached the sea floor by releasing water from a tank. It was a gentle landing in what looked like soft mud. The mud was made up of sediments from, presumably, all the biological materials that seemed to be everywhere in the water column. Susan and I were completely absorbed and amazed at the scene.

Tim

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