Gambino first experience diary

Ship’s log, star date 34.654 (20 November 2021 if you are reading from the Earth).

I’m approaching the R/V Meteor for the first research cruise of my life. I’m so excited! (For those of you who don’t have enough time to go through the text… It was great!)

The navigation started in the best way possible. Calm sea, working with a great research group, high expectations and a lot of questions about what the offshore of Etna would have revealed us. Unfortunately, after the first day I realised that one month on the ship would have been much harder than I expected. For bad sea conditions? For not knowing most of the group? No. There was no Italian coffee on board! (Thunders and terrifying music in the background).
After four days (yes, FOUR!), my friend Felix Gross showed me an automatic coffee machine in the navigation bridge, which saved my mental stability. I can’t thank him enough for this…

Once arrived in the working area I felt immediately at home. Warm weather, active volcanoes in sight and… garbage floating on the sea (the last one was not so nice). 

We started working on acquisition of bathymetric data and shallow Parasound profiles.
It was really interesting to learn how to acquire data with which I usually work on their final, processed version. The data provided us an unprecedented view of the offshore sector of Etna. Many details, many structures previously unknown were now visible. That was really unbelievable!

Unfortunately, the deadline for the submission of my PhD thesis did not give me enough time to follow all the activities on the ship; at least, for a half of the cruise. I could see only later the great work of the geology team and the awesome cores they collected. It was also fantastic to see the procedures for recovery and substitution of the Seafloor Geodedic stations which, hopefully, will give us further information for studying the unstable eastern flank of Etna. 

All in all, it has been a wonderful experience: for what I learnt, for data collected and for people I met on board. Everything was planned in detail; I really thank the organisation group for that and for giving me the opportunity to be part of this successful group. Hope I can repeat again such a beautiful professional and personal experience. Of course, once back at the port, the ‘mission’ of the HazELNUT cruise is not over. There are still a lot of data that need to be elaborated and developed; I can’t wait…

Text and Photo: Salvatore Gambino