Location: Nine stations along the Puerto Rico Trench axis (approx. 19.75 N) from 68 W to 64 W in 50 km increments
Berths: Two – Three
Duration/timing: Flexible, ideally March to June are typically best for weather and seas.
Necessary equipment: Crane/A-frame/Davit capable of lifting and retrieving FV (~ 100 kg and 3 m length), Space on deck for 3-4 crates (~1x1x2 m), Weather-tight (and preferably climate controlled) lab space near work deck. Onboard satellite internet for GPS transponder messages a plus but can be provided by the project. All project tools will be provided .
Project Activities Summary (aboard the vessel): At each of the nine stations over approximately two weeks, a FV (free vehicle) will be deployed (possibly more than one). This is a 30 min operation where the ship is stationary and the FV will be lifted from the deck to the ocean surface and released. The minimum round-trip time is seven hours, at which time the FV will be retrieved. FV have GPS transponder, radio beacon, and strobe to facilitate recovery. This work can easily be accomplished while other projects are being conducted.
This project will attempt to explore and characterize the entire Puerto Rico Trench (PRT) water column via untethered free vehicles, focusing on physical parameters such as temperature, salinity, and density (via Conductivity-Temperature-Depth probe (CTD)) but possibly employing other scientific payloads currently under development (e.g., current meter, sediment sampler, water sampler, invertebrate trap, etc.). This work will provide an as yet un-established baseline for future stewardship and investigative efforts.
This project proposes to make an along-axis survey of the entire PRT water column via FV. The primary scientific payload will be CTD which will allow: 1) detailed description of the different water masses in the PRT, including the contact between the North Atlantic Deep Water and Antarctic Bottom Water; 2) quantification of the generally E-W geostrophic flow in the deep PRT; and 3) estimates of PRT residence time for the deep-water masses. These findings will add to our understanding of the global thermohaline circulation and the deep PRT ecosystem.
Other Outcomes including pathways to impact – incl. communications, policy, training: In recent years Puerto Rico has experienced economic hardships and natural disasters. Through it all, the citizenry has remained proud of the island and its scientific contributions. In the past, my work in the PRT has garnered great interest from the public and a cruise like this would likely receive local media coverage. The findings will be instrumental in future stewardship and conservation efforts in the PRT. UPRM graduate and undergraduate students, both from the island and abroad, will be integral partners in this effort and benefit from the experiences and data.
2003 – PhD in Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO)
2006 – Co-chief Scientist, SIO/University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (UPRM) Puerto Rico Trench microbe study cruise (cf. Eloe et al., 2011)
2008 – UPRM Principal Investigator (PI), “Collaborative Research: Pressure Influences on Microbial Life in the Puerto Rico Trench”, National Science Foundation (NSF), $119,740
2008 – Chief Scientist, SIO/UPRM Puerto Rico Trench ADCP and microbe study cruise (cf., Schmidt and Siegel, 2011)
2009-2012 – Chief Scientist on numerous UPRM cruises focused on free vehicle development (cf. Jimenez et al., 2020)
2011 – UPRM, awarded tenure and recommended for full professorship, promotion held due to PR economic crisis.
2013 – UPRM, awarded full professorship
2013 to present – Appointed to United Nations World Ocean Assessment Pool of Experts, Wider Caribbean Region, United States Representative
2014 – PI, “Exploration of the Puerto Rico Trench and Muertos Trough via untethered free vehicles”, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), $349,000.
2015 – Lead Scientist, NOAA RV Okeanos Explorer EX1502 Leg 2, Free vehicle deployments (cf., Kennedy et al., 2015)
2018 – Lead Scientist, NOAA RV Nancy Foster NF-18-03 Leg 2, Free vehicle deployments (cf., Schmidt et al., 2019)