Milestone-Proposal:ALVIN: Deep-Sea Research Submersible, 1964-1965
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To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No
Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes
Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes
Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes
Was it of at least regional importance? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes
Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes
Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes
Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:
1964 to 1965
Title of the proposed milestone:
ALVIN: Deep-Sea Research Submersible, 1964-1965
Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) commissioned ALVIN, the world’s first mobile, untethered, crewed, deep-sea submersible in 1964. Navy certified in 1965, engineers and scientists at WHOI pioneered innovations in deep-sea acoustical navigation, communications, photography and lighting, and life support systems. ALVIN was instrumental in recovering a lost H-bomb, photographing RMS Titanic, creating the field of hyperbaric microbiology and by its discoveries of hydrothermal vents, revolutionized our understanding of life’s origins.
In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):
Unit: Providence Section
Senior Officer Name: Jason Gaudette
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:
Unit: Providence Section
Senior Officer Name: Jason Gaudette
IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):
IEEE Section: Providence Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Jason Gaudette
Proposer name: Albert J. Williams 3rd
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public
Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):
86 Water St., Woods Hole, MA 02543; 41.5250 -70.6717
Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.
Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. Smith Laboratory of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where Alvin was designed, taken to sea and deployed. It is operated by WHOI but owned by US Navy. The proposed mounting site is in sight of the WHOI Guards.
Are the original buildings extant?
Details of the plaque mounting:
The mounting with masonary bolts will be where a former fire call box was mounted outside Smith Laboratory on a brick wall at eye level. It is near the wooden welcome sign to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution with a map and other information.
How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?
The plaque can be approached freely and touched but the night watchman and weekend guards can see and protect the plaque as they can do for the Smith Building plaque on the opposite wall that has stood for 50 years.
Who is the present owner of the site(s)?
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?
ALVIN was the first untethered and fully mobile human occupied deep-ocean diving research vehicle. The bathyscaph Trieste was earlier, 1960, (and deeper) but was practically more of an elevator. It was only when scientists discovered things not seen from cores and trawls that the science of direct observation of the seafloor and seafloor discovery began and even then it was slow to start.
ALVIN’s significance to humanity was, and continues to be, far reaching and profound. It opened new avenues of research and discoveries in oceanography and evolutionary biology. A vehicle to explore the great depths of the world’s oceans demanded a host of significant engineering innovations: specifically, new technologies needed to deal with undersea navigation led to the ALNAV acoustic positioning system; special high-resolution color digital cameras and special lighting for observing the undersea world required the miniature three color CCD camera supplied by RCA for installation on the mechanical arm of ALVIN and high intensity efficient LED lights; joystick controlled servo-mechanical manipulators for gathering samples; and many essential though not strictly electronic but important innovations that the ALVIN as a system required such as new, clear plastic optical windows able to resist huge pressures; and hull materials beginning with massive welded HY-100 steel and subsequently titanium hemispheres to permit accessing the final design depth of ALVIN. Support of scientific objectives was essential to its success and scientists’ requests for innovative samplers and improved observational capabilities ensured that ALVIN was at the cutting edge of deep sea exploration. Many of these enhancements were electrical or mechanical engineering projects engaging the pilots of ALVIN who incorporated them during periodic overhauls or between research cruises.
1) The Scientific Significance
Scientific discoveries resulted from direct observations of the seafloor by observers inside ALVIN. Underwater, deep-sea instrumentation must resist wetness and high pressure. Since people are inside, life support must also be provided. For research and exploration, mobility, manipulation, and sensing capability are required and provision of these last three were, and still are, what has made ALVIN successful.
a) Hydrothermal vents
Hydrothermal vents were perhaps ALVIN’s biggest discovery. The existence of these vents opened up new and large areas of biological and geological scientific study which continue to this day. Hydrothermal vent communities of organisms not supported by photosynthesis could possibly be the origin of life on earth or even in the solar system. Science of these vent communities made possible by ALVIN’s capabilities has increased human understanding of alternate life chemistries [Corliss, J.B., Baross, J.A., Hoffman, F.E. (1981), “An hypothesis concerning the relationship between submarine hot springs and the origin of life on earth.” Oceanologica Acta 4, pp. 56-69.] [Nisbet, E.G. (1985). “The geological setting of the earliest life forms.” J. of Molecular Evolution 21, pp. 289-298.]
b) Hyperbaric microbiology
The discovery of hyperbaric microbiology resulted from a serendipitous accident. The accident was the sinking (with no loss of life) of ALVIN when a cable parted during a short transit to a new dive location with the crew and their box lunches aboard. Scrambling out against the surge of flooding water through the open hatch, the three crew members escaped but the box lunches went down with the vehicle and sat on the bottom, bathed in highly pressurized ocean surface water for almost a year. When recovered, the lunches were essentially intact with soup, bologna in the sandwiches, and apples undecayed. Placed in a laboratory refrigerator at the seafloor temperature, decay proceeded at the expected rate so it wasn’t the temperature that had preserved the lunches, but the pressure, and this led to a study of the effects of pressure on certain bacterial processes. Subsequent to the recovery and restitution of ALVIN, deep-sea microbiological studies performed in situ showed that microbial action proceeded at rates comparable to those at the surface at the deep-sea temperature when inoculated with deep-sea bacteria adapted to this high-pressure environment. This started the field of hyperbaric microbiology.
c) Other seafloor and deep-sea water column discoveries
Before the ALVIN there were only highly localized observations of the deep-ocean seafloor but ALVIN permitted seafloor experiments to be deployed and visited, not possible before ALVIN. The success of ALVIN soon resulted in peer reviewed journal papers (see peer reviewed papers in the bibliography references 13 to 26). This success encouraged other human occupied deep- ocean submersibles to be designed and built. Surprises resulted from ALVIN's direct observation of organisms on the seafloor and even in the water column during descent to the bottom. Apparent sensors of light in a blind shrimp found on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge gave rise to questions about colonization of new vents, perhaps facilitated by nearly invisible radiation. Cerenkov blue-green light from radioactive components of vent fluid possibly guide the shrimp to a new vent when their home vent goes dark. Hot vents, above 350 degrees Fahrenheit, also emit infrared radiation that the shrimp may sense to avoid being cooked yet permit them to approach close enough so that the bacteria, converting hydrogen sulfide to nutrients available to animals, can be collected. Tall worm-like organisms have no mouths but incorporate an organ containing bacteria that make the conversion of hydrogen sulfide and other vent fluid mineral components into animal nutrients inside their tall bodies.
2) Geopolitical Impact
Recovery by ALVIN of a hydrogen bomb accidentally dropped into the Mediterranean Sea had a dramatic benefit to humanity. One of the four thermonuclear bombs falling from a US bomber during a mid-air collision on January 17, 1966 missed Spain and fell into the sea. ALVIN was dispatched to locate it in the absence of other capable search and rescue submersibles. ALVIN found the bomb but attempts to net it from a surface vessel dislodged it, and the bomb rolled down a steep slope and was lost again. However, ALVIN found it again and at risk to its own safety pulled the net lowered from the surface over the bomb, aiding its recovery, and avoiding an international incident.
As a research tool, principally financed by the US Navy, there is a delicate balance between responsiveness to the Navy’s interests and those of research scientists. The recovery of the H- bomb in Spanish waters provided ALVIN visibility in Navy circles helping to insure continued funding. But scientific discoveries ultimately won ALVIN success and this depended on its ability to provide the scientists what they needed for their own success. Several of these were engineering breakthroughs.
3) ALVIN’s Engineering Breakthroughs
Undersea navigation, data collection and communication presented challenges that did not have immediate solutions available at hand when needed during the early days of ALVIN research projects. Some that existed in military systems were either too costly, too cumbersome, or too secret to be incorporated in ALVIN but some were not available at all and were developed by ALVIN engineers as required. All of them continue to develop and are reported at technical conferences and in technical reports.
a) New technologies to deal with undersea navigation
One of the developments leading to more general underwater navigation was the acoustic ALNAV array of transponders that permitted a surface ship to know ALVIN's location. [Hunt, M.M., Marquet, W.M., Moller, D.A., Peal, K.R., Smith, W.K. and Spindel, R.C. (1974). “An acoustic navigation system”. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Technical Report WHOI- 74-6.]. Acoustic transponders were dropped in an array and navigated in by the surface vessel. Subsequently, the location of ALVIN in the array was determined by an acoustic ping from the surface ship and arrival times of that ping and the replies from the bottom mounted transponders. This information was also available to the surface ship when the source of the interrogating ping was the submersible. (The surface ship is rarely more than a few miles away during an ALVIN dive.) The ALNAV system has been copied for ROV and AUV navigation and is called a long baseline navigation system to distinguish it from a more recent short- baseline acoustic navigation system useful for unoccupied vehicles where the receivers are on the surface ship and the transponder is on the submersible. The requirements of accurate positioning require survey techniques that separate differences in depth of transponders on the bottom and variations in speed of sound profiles in the water. The processing of these time differences from the transponders had to be done initially with calculators. The elements of the ALNAV system included a timing control unit, mathematical analysis of the acoustic path lengths, and statistical analysis of the survey problem. Two-dimensional tracking of drifting sound sources had been done previously in the 1950s but adding the third dimension presented new difficulties. Three-dimensional positioning had been done with the Missile Impact Location System (MILS) using the SOFAR channel to pinpoint distant sources. A system from APL University of Washington used an array of four hydrophones to track a vehicle at short ranges. Both of these systems were coupled to shore for control and signal processing. Three autonomous systems not requiring shore support were built starting with ALNAV (ALVIN NAVigation) and including ANGUS (Acoustically Navigated Geological Underwater System), and ANBUS (Acoustically Navigated Buoy Underwater System). The acoustic parts of these systems are essentially identical.
b) Optical innovations and windows
Optical signals have been used for data transmission over modest ranges where ALVIN can interrogate a logging device on the seafloor and obtain large volumes of data in a brief interval due to the high bandwidth of optical signals. This is an area of active research. More significantly, direct viewing remains an important observational tool in ALVIN and photography from inside the sphere is important. Flat Plexiglas windows with conical seats in the hull were incorporated in the original steel hull of ALVIN. These were copied in the second hull although this hull was made of titanium. In the third personnel sphere of ALVIN, hemispherical acrylic windows were designed to provide greater strength and wider field of view than the earlier flat windows.
Power, always a concern for mission duration, benefited from LED lighting and improved placement of light sources for photography. Some of the best photographs were obtained with external video cameras but there were also observers with cameras inside ALVIN looking out through Plexiglas windows. These windows were critical for observation by the pilots but also presented risk. After a swordfish rammed a window at depth, with its sword becoming stuck in the gap between the hull and a section of syntactic foam used for buoyancy, a risk assessment experiment was conducted by one of the ALVIN engineers. He used frozen swordfish swords fired from a cannon to impact Plexiglas windows in order to study the sword failure with high speed video photographs. It was determined that there was little danger from swordfish attacks because of the way the window was put into compression by the conical seat and high external pressure. So far, only two such attacks have occurred and on one occasion the swordfish that was stuck to ALVIN was brought up and enjoyed by the crew at supper.
c) Electrical and fiber optic penetrators through the hull
High-pressure electrical and fiber-optic connectors and cable are required on ALVIN and particularly with human life at risk have been optimized with a large margin of safety. Most of the cables outside the personnel sphere are in pressure-exposed oil filled conduit with only the penetrators around the viewing ports being pressure resisting connections. High-pressure connectors are commercially available but those that are also waterproof have been less reliable. The solution has been to encapsulate the wires and penetrators in oil so that simple high-pressure connectors can be used and the ALVIN system separates the water proofing (using oil filled tubes at ambient pressure) from the penetration of electrical signals through the housing. Connections outside the housing are common commercial electrical connectors simply exposed to oil. The connection panels are boxes filled with oil and covered with a transparent flexible lid.
d) Special high-resolution color digital cameras, special lighting for observing the undersea world
Technical developments were required by observational needs such as high resolution color digital cameras (1979), trim and ballast tanks, and manipulators, subsequently copied on other submersibles. Video camera development in the 1970s had transitioned from video orthicon tubes to CCD sensors but for color cameras they were bulky and their use was limited to overall scenes and locating experiments in the context of their surroundings. Preparatory to a mission to the newly discovered hydrothermal vent near the Galapagos Islands, a miniature version of the CCD color camera was implemented in 1979 by RCA in a titanium case small enough to be mounted on one of ALVIN’s arms. Since this was a prototype camera as well as an underwater version of it, an RCA engineer accompanied the new camera to its mission to the Galapagos hydrothermal vents. The result was a collection of superb photographs of giant tube worms and other vent organisms used in a National Geographic TV video documentary, “Dive to the Edge of Creation”.
Cameras outside ALVIN have been given more jobs as the technology improved. The miniature video camera allowed close ups of organisms and geologic formations to be observed. Other cameras permitted ALVIN itself to be photographed from a remote installation on the seafloor nearby. Adjusting buoyancy with ballast and trim tanks operated by pumps permitted the pilots to ballast ALVIN slightly buoyant when reaching the bottom in a survey region so that the vertical thrusters could be sending propeller wash upwards to keep the bottom clear for better viewing and photography.
e) New electro-mechanical manipulators for gathering samples
Sampling devices used with manipulators allowed collection of bottom mud and fauna into thermally insulated and even pressure sealed containers for recovery to the surface for cold, hyperbaric studies of the unusual life forms found at hydrothermal vents. One manipulator had rotation around the wrist joint as well as the elbow, hand, and shoulder joints of each arm. These had originally been controlled with on-off switches but proportional joystick control made them more sensitive and useful and the electric controls exercised by the pilots provided capabilities that benefited the scientific endeavors. While recovery of samples for analysis on the surface was the principal purpose of the manipulators, in situ experiments were made possible with precise emplacement of trays containing organisms or places where deep-sea organisms might colonize the mud in the trays. Some trays were brought down in ALVIN’s basket but some were dropped with a relocation transponder that ALVIN could visit and unpack and place for later acoustically-triggered recovery by a surface ship. These were elevator deployments allowing scheduled recoveries when ALVIN was elsewhere but another ship was available. Precise sampling benefited from improved manipulators, two being more useful than a single manipulator.
f) Other crucial innovations
Engineering design of the hull and the windows was a critical task, particularly of interest to the Navy needing to better understand titanium and Plexiglas as structural materials under high pressure. The first pressure sphere was HY-100 steel and welding the two hemispheres together was an important innovation with little to guide the fabricators. Hulls two and three were made of titanium and also were innovative. Hull three is slightly larger and thicker and has five instead of four Plexiglas windows of a new hemispherical design, giving better visibility for each observer and full overlap of field of view in front for better maneuvering. Syntactic foam flotation is necessary to overcome the weight of the lead acid batteries and the behavior of this syntactic foam is always of some concern. At overhauls, each block of foam is weighed and blocks gaining excessive weight are retired. The many cycles of pressure from the ALVIN dives set a stringent requirement on the foam. For a number of years only blocks of foam measuring ½’x1’x2’ were reliable, larger blocks having experienced thermal stress during setup. Blocks were epoxied together as required to obtain the shapes and buoyancy needed and machined after assembly into larger pieces.
Electrical cabling and interconnections were inside oil filled hoses and boxes at ambient pressure but for safety had to be able to be disconnected from the personnel sphere in case ALVIN became terminally stuck. Safety was and is always a high priority with several levels of escape available to the pilots. Dropping the batteries is first option, dropping one or both manipulators is next, and finally release of the personnel sphere from the body is third resulting, it is thought, in a wild ride to the surface. But it is essential that there be no inadvertent connection to the sphere that might compromise this final escape. ALVIN has temporarily been stuck but never for more than a few hours where careful backing and rotation allowed retreat from the overhang under which ALVIN was caught. The failure of the lifting cable that caused ALVIN to spend almost a year on the bottom was a failure of systems of oversight and security that changed the approach to running ALVIN from an adventure to a serious scientific and maritime endeavor. Each of these electronic and mechanical developments might have been undertaken at some point without ALVIN; however, the demand of ALVIN created a stimulus for the development to the benefit of other human occupied submersibles.
4) Current ALVIN Developments - 2020
In April 2020 ALVIN was taken out of service and returned to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for a major overhaul and upgrade. The depth rating of several grandfathered systems has prevented ALVIN from achieving its designed depth limit and these are being upgraded to remove this restriction. The overhaul will be completed in May 2021 and ALVIN with its new depth rating will be certified in a series of tests before returning to active service. During the final days of the pre-certification on shore, it is hoped that the installation of the ALVIN Milestone will take place at Woods Hole with a celebration in its recognition. Attendees of the event will be able to at least see ALVIN up close before it leaves on its trials and then goes into active service again.
What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?
Initially, few scientists felt it necessary for anyone to go to the seafloor to see what was there, so reluctance at the start meant there had to be push from a few scientists, Allyn Vine for one, rather than pull by biologists or geologists. But when discoveries began to be made, the scientists' attitude changed. Eyeballs inside Alvin for seafloor observations remained unchallenged until Remote Operated Vehicles and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles came along in 1976 and later.
What features set this work apart from similar achievements?
Alvin has an operational capability that exceeds other, contemporary submersibles, with close coupling between the engineers and scientists to maximize the discoveries possible. The discovery of living communities of animals at deep, dark, cold hydrothermal vents followed by the discovery of very hot hydrothermal smokers with their own communities revealed a life system powered by chemical systems rather than photosynthesis. This last realization, based upon Alvin observations, has led to a belief among many that life on earth may have started at hydrothermal vents and perhaps may have done so on other planets or moons of the solar system.
Availability of Alvin to scientists from other research institutions through UNOLS (University and National Oceanographic Laboratory Systems) scheduling has permitted observational and experimental work to be done by the best in the world. Maturity of the operations of Alvin means that the number of dive days per year exceeds other deep diving research submersibles.
Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.
Bibliography of references about Alvin or about events leading to or resulting from the development of Alvin. First from sources not peer reviewed (1-12) followed by peer reviewed journal citations (13-38).
1) "Six minutes after one o'clock on the afternoon of January 23, 1960, the refurbished Trieste [August Piccard's Bathyscaph] descended to the deepest known spot on earth, a mammoth gash in the floor of the Pacific about 200 miles southwest of Guam. Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh dropped 35,800 feet, nearly seven miles, to the floor of the Mariana Trench". Water baby: the story of Alvin, Victoria A. Kaharl, Oxford University Press, 1990. p 15.
2) "On June 5, 1964, several hundred people sat on the Laboratory of Oceanography [Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution] rooftop, hung out windows, and crammed into the WHOI parking lot before the world's first deep-diving submarine. On its glistening white fiberglass skins was written: 'BUILT BY LITTON' and 'RESEARCH SUBMARINE' and 'ALVIN.'" p 46, ibid.
3) "It was March 24 .’Tonight,' a New York Times reporter wrote, ' shrouded in the grayish parachute that clings to it tightly as a wet dress clings to a women, the bomb [unarmed H-bomb dropped during a midair collision over Spain] still lay on the side of a steep slope...as submariners gently tried once more to clamp a line around it.'" p 78. "At 7 A.M. April 7, Alvin hovered at a safe depth of 1925 feet and the topside winches started to turn. In an hour the whole sassy package was at the surface - CURV [Cable Controlled Underwater Research Vehicle], the parachute and Nuke 4, only slightly dented from its 30,000-foot plummet through the sky. It was over." p 79, ibid.
4) "At 9 o'clock in the morning on October 16 , RV Gosnold escorted RV Lulu to the bright red Buoy Alpha. The weather was fair for Alvin's 307th dive." ... "[Paul] Stimpson and Roger Weaver, a pilot in training, climbed into the sub. Pilot Ed Bland took his place in the sail and watched the line handlers pay out rope as he backed out Alvin from between the pontoons [of Lulu]. Bland ducked inside, shut the hatch, and the sub dropped through the frothing bubbles at the surface." ... "They were down only about 15 minutes when they discovered a short circuit in an outside camera, and surfaced. The repairs didn't take long." ... "'Prepare to launch,' Rainnie repeated from the bridge." ... "Broderson placed a ladder back into the passenger sphere for Stimpson and Weaver. The ladder came out and Bland got back into the sail. As Lulu's master held the catamaran in position against a 15-knot wind, the cradle rose and the chocks Alvin perched on were removed. Broderson looked to the line handlers for a nod. From the sail, Bland did the same and then signaled to start lowering the cradle." ... "The cradle dropped a foot, seven more feet to go, and suddenly Alvin's nose pitched down and Rainnie saw the wispy tuft of Bland's white hair disappear into the sea." p 114. ... "Bland, still straddling the open hatch, gulped for air as the buoyant submarine bobbed back to the surface." ... "Water poured into the submarine, taking away all that buoyancy. Got to get out." p 115. ... "It took about 60 seconds from the time of the first cable parting to the sinking of the submarine. The three men escaped with only bruises and scrapes." ... "In 5000 feet of water, the sonar at the surface probably would not see the articles [thrown over as targets]. Even Alvin might be missed." ... "Luckily Buoy Alpha was there to mark the spot." p 116. ... "On August 27 , they went out again.” ... “McCamis said he grabbed the controls and drove Aluminaut [the rescue submersible that WHOI had chartered] up onto Alvin so Canary [the Aluminaut regular pilot] could insert the toggle bar [at the end of the 7000 foot line lowered by Mizar into Alvin's open hatch].” ... “Mizar's winch turned and Alvin rose.” ... “Slowly Mizar towed the submerged Alvin to Menemsha Bight off Martha's Vineyard.” ... “Alvin broke the surface on September 1, 1969. Bobby Weeks jumped in with the end of a hose to pump the water from the passenger sphere. Something was in the way. A jacket floated out of the sail. Weeks tossed it onto the barge. The lunch bag floated out. He threw that too and pushed in the hose. With the water out, Alvin was lifted onto the barge and was doused with fresh water.” ... “[At the WHOI dock] the biologist Howard Sanders walked among the scattered debris shaking his head. What a sorry sight. 'Hey, Howard, look at this'. Winget held up a baloney sandwich which he had taken from the bag Weeks had tossed onto the barge. 'Looks good enough to eat, doesn't it?' said Winget. 'How's it taste?' . 'Salty but still tastes like baloney'. Surely, Sanders thought, Winget was joking. The engineer swore he wasn't; he showed Sanders the other sandwiches and the three apples; all looked fresh. But how could that be after being at the bottom of the ocean for ten months? Sanders took the lunches back to his laboratory and called WHOI's senior microbiologist, [Holger Jannasch].” p 123, 124, ibid.
5) “The incredibly fresh-looking sandwiches and apples that Howard Sanders carried to his laboratory attracted much attention. The microbiologists could not explain how after ten months at the bottom of the sea the lunches could still look fresh and, in fact, be fresh, untouched by decay. Could it be? No. Perhaps, someone suggested, the food had sat in a pool of battery acid. The scientists photographed, poked and prodded the three waterlogged apples and three baloney and mayonnaise sandwiches. The apples tasted like apple, even smelled like apple. The concentration of enzymes in the fruit was equivalent to that of fresh apples. The baloney was still pink. Seawater had seeped into the crushed thermos bottle of bouillon but still tasted like perfectly good broth. The usual amount of bacteria was present in all the food. Another puzzle was the healthy state of the bacteria. Like most life, bacteria brought up from the deep ocean were usually dead at the surface from the drastic pressure and temperature changes. In the zippered lunch bag, the food had been protected from scavengers, preserved by a combination of high pressure and cold temperature. In the biologists’ refrigerator, all the food spoiled in a few days. Alvin’s misfortune immediately sparked a new field of study. … WHOI’s microbiologists tried to duplicate the unintentional experiment. They packed the essence of the same lunch … fastened the abbreviated lunch packs onto the lines of moorings used by the physical oceanographers for other experiments. When the organic material was retrieved with the buoys several months later, it was in excellent condition, proving that the preserved state of the Alvin lunches was no fluke. The metabolism of the bacteria was as much as a hundred times slower in the deep sea. ’The implications of the Alvin lunch experiment are obvious,’ microbiologists Holger Jannasch and Carl Wirsen wrote. ‘The deep sea is not a suitable environment for dumping organic wastes.’” p 135, 136, ibid.
6) “[Bob] Ballard made his first Alvin dive in July 1971 and by the end of the 1972 season, he had made twenty-three more, holding the record for the scientist with the most Alvin dives. The Gulf of Maine dives were part of Ballard’s [PhD] thesis research on plate tectonics, the theory that the continents ride on slow-moving blocks of the earth’s crust. … If the two plates in the North Atlantic separated, Ballard reasoned, there should be evidence of it in the continental shelves. At about the time the continents were thought to have pulled apart in the North Atlantic, a structural rock formation unique to the separated plates developed. The formation called the Newark System had formed in the Appalachian Mountains. Ballard did find pieces of the Newark System, rocks that could not have been found blindly with a dredge from a ship, because these were lying beneath other kinds of rocks.” p140, 141, ibid.
7) “On June 6, , WHOI’s new ship RV Knorr, which carried Alvin and towed Lulu, headed for the Azores [to join the FAMOUS expedition at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge]. … Knorr carried a full twenty-four-person complement of scientists, graduate students, technicians, and two members of the press … to document the first human probe to an underwater seam of the planet.” p 156, ibid.
8) “In February 1977, some fifty scientists and technicians from Oregon, Massachusetts, California and Texas boarded Lulu and her escort Knorr and headed to the [Galapagos hydrothermal vent site]. … Also on the Galapagos expedition were three National Geographic photographers. … What interested the geologists [viewing the towed ANGUS recordings from the site] was the tiny temperature spike, so van Andel and Corliss headed for the Clambake on the first [Alvin] dive. … Within about fifteen minutes of touchdown at about 8000 feet, the sensor beeped and flashing red numbers indicated a hundredth of a degree rise in temperature. Suddenly Alvin was surrounded by life. There were huge clamshells, stark white against the black elephant-skin basalt; brown mussels; a big bright red shrimp; a couple of white crabs scampering over the basalt; white squat lobsters; a brittlestar; a large pale anemone.” p 171-173, ibid.
9) “The morning of July 9, 1986, sailing day they tried once more [to operate JJ (Jason Junior, a remote operated vehicle) attached to Alvin] off the dock. The engineers stared hopefully into the water as Alvin carrying JJ and Von Alt [JJ’s designer], disappeared. Nearby, Ballard told reporters about his plans for going down the grand staircase [of Titanic]. Finally Alvin’s sail broke the surface. … Can we go?’ Ballard asked. ’Yes,’ Von Alt said. … In three and a half days the AII [Atlantis II, now Alvin’s tender] reached the Titanic site. … Ballard descended with the most experienced pilots, Dudley Foster and Ralph Hollis, to get the lay of the land and assess the dangers. … The first direct glimpse of the Titanic was brief, perhaps two minutes’ worth. Hollis quickly backed Alvin away from the swirling sediment, and reasoning it was unwise to wait for the water to clear, headed for the surface.” p 287, 289, ibid.
10) “This year marks the 50th anniversary of two of America’s most iconic, cutting edge vehicles: the Ford Mustang and another vehicle that was hardly sleek or stylish and didn’t have a bold, jazzy name. Three years after President John F. Kennedy committed the nation to the goal of ‘landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth’ – and five years before we did so – a stubby white submersible was built with the goal of taking people to the bottom of the ocean and returning them safely to the surface: Alvin.” “The Once and Future Alvin, at 50 years old, the sub is reborn,” K. Madin and L. Lippsett, Oceanus Vol 51 Summer 2014. p 2 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA.
11) “One unforeseen outcome of Alvin’s ten-month immersion sent ripples through the ocean science community. Lunchbags abandoned at the sinking were still in the sphere. After nearly a year in seawater 5,000 feet deep, the bologna sandwiches were sodden and the apples wet. But they were not decayed. WHOI microbiologist Holger Jannasch wasn’t too surprised; he had expected decomposition to be slow at cold temperatures in the deep sea. ‘It was not the well-preserved quality of the foodstuffs that startled us,’ he wrote, ‘but the utterly simple means of overcoming the decompression problem, used in this involuntary experiment.’ The decompression problem was this: When scientists brought bacteria adapted to the high pressure of the deep ocean back to the surface, the rapid decompression killed the very microbes the scientists wanted to study. Suddenly, Jannasch saw that instead of bringing the microbes up, they could do experiments in situ in the deep sea-by putting culture media in sample containers on the seafloor and allowing in seawater with ambient bacteria that would grow there. This insight ‘broke a roadblock,’ he said, and led to new experiments, new sampling and culturing instruments, and a blossoming of deep-sea microbiology that has yielded unfathomed biochemical discoveries, some with commercial and pharmaceutical applications.” p 5, ibid.
12) “Since its birth in 1964, the deep-sea research submersible Alvin has been brought in every few years for overhauls. Most were routine maintenance – the submarine equivalent of a 30,000-mile service on your car. ’You have to take the vehicle completely apart to check the structural integrity of the sphere, frame, and other components,’ said Anthony Tarantino, a former Alvin pilot. ‘But you only make minor changes and usually put it back together, configured in very much the same way.’ Some overhauls were more substantial, incorporating new technology and improvements. Alvin evolved. The original steel personnel sphere was replaced in 1973 with a titanium one that allowed Alvin to reach depths of 4,500 meters (2.8 miles). Along the way, a second manipulator arm and video cameras were added. Thrusters replaced a stern propeller to increase speed and maneuverability. Alvin’s white sail became red-orange to make it easier to spot when it surfaced. As a result, the original sub that was christened a half-century ago looked very different from the one that investigated impacts from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in December 2010. After that mission, Alvin was brought to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) for a scheduled overhaul. But this overhaul was nothing like all the rest. The sub that engineers at WHOI began to disassemble in 2010 bore the same name as the one that was loaded on board the research vessel Atlantis in May 2013. But so does a 2014 Cadillac and the one your grandfather owned. This new Alvin has about 70 percent new components,’ said Pat Hickey, who headed the Alvin Operations Group during the overhaul project. ‘We basically redesigned and rebuilt the entire vehicle.’ How that happened is a tale that began in the mid-1990s, when the community of ocean scientists first began contemplating what the future of deep-sea research would look like in the new millennium.” p 10, L. Lippsett, ibid.
Peer reviewed journal papers Note: selection of peer reviewed journal papers for inclusion was from Google Scholar under search term “Alvin submarine” with a few citations selected from each decade. There were several hundred with Alvin in the tittle or in the text but almost none were about the submarine. They were nearly all about results obtained with the submarine. One special source was volume 6 of the Bulletin of the Biological Society of Washington, a compendium of the papers presented at a symposium on “Hydrothermal Vents of the Eastern Pacific: an Overview”, held in Philadelphia in conjunction with the annual meetings of the American Society of Zoologists, in December, 1983. This compendium was edited by Meredith Jones who arranged for their anonymous reviews. Format per reference is: Abstract or excerpted text; title of paper; authors; citation.
13) “Food materials from the sunken and recovered research submarine Alvin were found to be in a strikingly well-preserved state after exposure for more than 10 months to deep-sea conditions. Subsequent experiments substantiated this observation and indicated that rates of microbial degradation were 10 to 100 times slower in the deep sea than in controls under comparable temperatures.” “Microbial Degradation of Organic Matter in the Deep Sea”, Holger W. Jannasch, Kjell Eimhjellen, Carl 0. Wirsen, A. Farmanfarmalan. Science 19 Feb 1971: Vol. 171, Issue 3972, pp. 672-675.
14) “It has been found that the 90-deg plane conical frustum windows with t/Di = 0.7 ratio in ALVIN submersible can be replaced with 90-deg t/Di = 1 spherical shell sector windows without any modification of window seat flanges. The 90-deg spherical shell sector windows with t/Di = 1.0 possess not only a higher short term critical pressure but also develop more uniform stress distribution during a typical dive to 12,000 ft than the t/Di = 0.7 acrylic conical frustum windows that they replace. The 90-deg t/Di = 1.0 spherical shell sector windows (1) withstood, without catastrophic failure, 100 hr sustained loading to 20,000 psi, (2) 33 pressure cycles of 7-hr duration to 13,500 ft depth without any signs of fatigue, and (3) experienced less than 15,000 μin. strain during a simulated typical proof test dive to 13,500 ft. depth. The 90-deg t/Di = 1 spherical shell sector window presents a 50 percent larger view in water than a 90-deg t/Di = 0.7 conical frustum window that it replaces. This permits the observer inside the submersible to cover visually more ocean bottom during a single pass along the bottom and thus decreases the cost of a typical bottom search mission for a submersible.” “Spherical Shell Sector Acrylic Plastic Windows with 12,000 ft Operational Depth for Submersible Alvin”, J. D. Stachiw, R. Sletten. J. Eng. Ind. May 1976, 98(2): pp 523-536 (14 pages).
15) “During the FAMOUS survey of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in August and September, 1974 by the research submersible “Alvin” two cores were taken for radiochemical analysis. One core (527-3) was 24 cm long and the other (530-4) was 17 cm long. Both were from water depths of about 2500 m. Slices of the cores were analyzed for radiocarbon and 210Pb. In the top 8 cm layer of 527-3 dates are constant with depth at about 2400 yr B.P. Below 8 cm radiocarbon dates increase linearly yielding an accumulation rate of 2.9 cm/103 yr. The constant age from the surface to a depth of 8 cm can be attributed to biogenic mixing to that depth with no significant mixing below 8 cm. The excess 210Pb pattern yields a mixing coefficient of 0.6 × 10−8 cm2/sec. The top 2 cm of core 530-4 has a 14C date of 13,000 yr B.P. Below 4 cm dates increase from 16,400 to 18,000 yr B.P., but this increase probably is not statistically significant. The data indicate physical disruption of the section. The date of this disruption is not defined by the data but the restriction of excess 210Pb to the top centimeter of the core implies either that sediment accumulation at this site has only recently resumed or that both the rate of accumulation and rate and depth of bioturbation have been very small since the disrupting event.” “Radiocarbon and 210Pb distribution in submersible-taken deep-sea cores from Project FAMOUS”, Y.NozakiJ.Kirk CochranKarl K.TurekianGeorgeKeller. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 34, Issue 2, March 1977, Pages 167-173.
16) “Since the discovery of excess 3He in Pacific deep waters, it has been argued that the source of this anomaly is the mid-depth injection of primordial helium from seafloor spreading centres. This hypothesis is consistent with the spatial distribution of excess 3He in the deep waters, its presence in the glassy (rapidly quenched) margins of extruded ocean basalts, and the detection of a large 3He excess in a ‘thermal plume’ (thermal anomaly >0.1 °C, sampled using a deep-tow sled) over the Galapagos Spreading Centre. In this report, we summarise 37 measurements of excess helium in hydrothermal waters sampled using the Alvin deep submersible at the Galapagos Spreading Centre during February and March of 1977.” “Excess 3He and 4He in Galapagos submarine hydrothermal waters”, W. J. Jenkins, J. M. Edmond, & J. B. Corliss. Nature volume 272, pp 156–158(1978).
17) “… expected to be almost devoid of life. A dive with the research submersible ALVIN convinces anyone otherwise. Planktonic life forms can be observed in surprising density as far down as 3600m, ALVIN's present depth limit,…” “Microbial Turnover of Organic Matter in the Deep Sea”, Holger W. Jannasch. BioScience, Volume 29, Issue 4, April 1979, pp 228–232.
18) “Ranging in height from gentle hills of less than a meter to steep‐sided giants of more than 20 m, the mounds of the Galapagos Rift are spectacular hydrothermal features. Their internal temperatures have been measured at up to 13°C above the bottom water temperature, and total heat flow (conducted plus convected) can be several hundred to several thousand times the normal oceanic values. Fluids, when they discharge from the mound, do so at a very slow rate and at temperatures probably quite near the bottom water temperature. The mounds are principally composed of iron silicates intermixed and incrusted with lesser amounts of manganese oxides. They are generally found in rows, in a uniformly sedimented area above faults or fractures in the crustal rocks which permit fluids to escape from a deep hydrothermal aquifer. The sediment blanket in some way alters the chemistry of the ascending thermal fluids and leads to the development of mounds. The mounds field, covering an area of at least 200 km2 and consisting of thousands of individual mounds, is probably less than 300,000 years old; and many of the mounds may be only a few tens of thousands of years old or less.” “The hydrothermal mounds of the Galapagos Rift: Observations with DSRV Alvin and detailed heat flow studies”, David L. Williams, Kenneth Green, Tjeerd H. van Andel, Richard P. von Herzen, Jack R. Dymond, Kathleen Crane. J. Geophysical Research, Solid Earth, 10 December 1979, pp 7467-7484.
19) “… plumes above vents during Pleiades I and II, including one sample with a temperature anomaly of 0.2°C. More recently, water samples with temperatures 10°C above ambient water were collected from the vents themselves with the submersible "Alvin" (Corliss et al., 1979) …” “Observations of the distribution of manganese over the East Pacific Rise”, G.P.Klinkhammer. Chemical Geology Volume 29, Issues 1–4, 1980, pp 211-226.
20) “… tube worm, Riftia pachyptila Jones (4), of the phylum Pogonophora (5). Observations from the submersible Alvin indicate that the tubes of Riftia are attached to rocks situated directly in the flow of sulfide-rich seawater from the vent (H2S, up to 160 FM) (2). Riftia is superficially …” “Prokaryotic cells in the hydrothermal vent tube worm Riftia pachyptila Jones: possible chemoautotrophic symbionts”, CM Cavanaugh, SL Gardiner, ML Jones, HW Jannasch. Science New Series, Vol. 213, No. 4505 (Jul. 17, 1981), pp. 340-342.
21) “… A later expedition with the American submersible ALVIN discovered active hydrothermal vents creating massive sulphide mounds very close to the ridge axis. These samples are fresher and usually better crystallized than the CYAMEX ones …” “Comparison of sulphide deposits from the East Pacific Rise and Cyprus”, E. Oudin, P. Picot & G. Pouit. Nature volume 291, (1981), pp 404–407.
22) “Nine dives in the research submersible “Alvin” were made into Great Abaco Submarine Canyon to depths ranging from 1850 to 3666 m. Our observations indicate that the walls of this canyon are distinctly terraced, consisting of nearly vertical to overhanging rock cliffs and intervening, less steep sediment-covered slopes. The wall rock consists mostly of massive, shallow-water limestones and dolostones of Cretaceous age, coated on exposed surfaces with manganese oxides. These rocks are heavily jointed/fractured and thus very blocky to angular in appearance, with sponges and other sessile organisms commonly attached. Talus slopes and sedimentary breccia deposits containing angular boulders are present at the base of these steep escarpments.” “Geology of Great Abaco Submarine Canyon (Blake Plateau): Observations from the research submersible ‘Alvin’”, HT Mullins, GH Keller, JW Kofoed, DN Lambert, William LStubblefield, John EWarme. Marine Geology, Volume 48, Issues 3–4, August 1982, pp 239-257.
23) “Four species of galatheids, Munidopsis crassa, M. curvirostra, M. nitida, and M. subsquamosa were recovered from mesh-enclosed wood panels placed near experimental "wood islands" in the deep sea and retrieved with the aid of the deep submersible research vessel Alvin. Samples of the first and third of these species were large enough to allow regression analysis of carapace width and short carapace length. Five individuals of M. crassa which grew beyond 10-mm carapace width and thus were trapped within the bags are speculated to have increased this width by 1.86 mm ± 2.17 (SD) per month during a 9.6 ± 3.71 (SD)-month period. However, real growth of both this species and the smaller M. nitida remains untested. Notes on geographic distribution of the species and stomach contents are given.” ” Squat Lobsters (Galatheidae: Munidopsis) Associated With Mesh-enclosed Wood Panels Submerged in the Deep Sea”, Austin B. Williams, Ruth D. Turner. Journal of Crustacean Biology, Volume 6, Issue 3, 1 July 1986, pp 617–624.
24) “In September 1984, the research submersible Alvin provided direct observations of three major hydrothermal vent areas along the southernmost segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge (JFR). The submersible operations focused on specific volcanology, structural, and hydrothermal problems that had been identified during the preceding 4 years of photographic, dredging, acoustic imaging, and geophysical studies along a 12‐km‐long section of the ridge. A continuously maintained (from 1981 to the present) net of seafloor‐anchored acoustic transponders allowed the observations from Alvin to be directly tied to all previous U.S. Geological Survey data sets and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration water column surveys from 1984 to the present. The three vent areas studied are the largest of at least six areas identified by previous deep‐towed camera surveys that lie within a deep cleft, which marks the axis of symmetry of the JFR in this region. The cleft appears to be the locus of eruption for this segment of the JFR. The vent areas, at least in part, are localized near what appear to be previous volcanic eruptive centers marked by extensive lava lake collapse features adjacent to the cleft at these sites. Each hydrothermal area has several active discharge sites, and sulfide deposits occur as clusters (15–100 m2) of small chimneys, individual large chimneys, or clusters of large branched chimneys. We review the dive program and present a brief synthesis of the geology of the vent sites together with sample and track line compilations.” “Submersible observations along the southern Juan de Fuca Ridge: 1984 Alvin Program”, William R. Normark, Janet L. Morton, Stephanie L. Ross. JGR Solid Earth, Volume92, Issue B11, 10 October 1987, pp 11283-11290.
25) “Stratigraphically controlled sequences of in situ lavas were collected from Loihi Seamount using the Alvin submersible to evaluate the volcano's temporal geochemical evolution. Three sections with up to 370 m of relief were sampled from the two pit craters at the summit of Loihi. All of the analyses were done on glass separates. Our results indicate that tholeiitic and alkalic volcanism at the summit of Loihi has been coeval. The tholeiitic and alkalic lavas have similar incompatible element patterns and O, Pb, Sr, and Nd isotope ratios but are distinct in some incompatible element ratios. These results are consistent with the different Loihi rock types being derived by variable degrees of melting from a common source. The crossing and light‐rare‐earth‐enriched rare earth element patterns and variable Sc/Yb ratios of the tholeiites indicate that their source was a garnet lherzolite. The relatively low δ18O values (<4.9 ‰) for Loihi lavas are interpreted to be characteristic of the Hawaiian plume.” “An evaluation of temporal geochemical evolution of Loihi Summit Lavas: Results from Alvin submersible dives”, Michael O. Garcia, Beth A. Jorgenson, John J. Mahoney, Emi Ito, Anthony J. Irving. JGR Solid Earth, Volume 98, Issue B1, 10 January 1993, pp 537-550.
26)“… Rock samples from the new flow were obtained using the submersible ALVIN in October, 1993, allowing us to compare the magnetic properties of very young oceanic crust to off-axis samples, obtained from much older sites…. ” “Magnetic properties of zero‐age oceanic crust; A new submarine lava flow on the Juan de Fuca Ridge”, H. Paul Johnson, Maurice A. Tivey. Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 22, Issue 2, 15 January 1995, pp 175-178.
27) “… ALISS is positioned at a vent using the Alvin submersible, and three to five 5‐minute exposures are obtained with each filter array. In some cases, a series of 30‐second exposures is obtained to analyze the time‐varying nature of the light …” “Ambient light emission from hydrothermal vents on the Mid‐Atlantic Ridge”, Sheri N. White, Alan D. Chave, George T. Reynolds, Cindy L. Van Dover. Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 29, Issue 15, August 2002, pp 34-1-34-4.
28) “… The new submersible, with its improved systems and greater depth capability, will access >99% of the ocean's depths. The new design will continue to permit operation of the new Alvin submersible by a single pilot on a daily basis, with two science observers on each dive …” “Being there: The continuing need for human presence in the deep ocean for scientific research and discovery”, P Fryer, D Fornari, M Perfit, K Von Damm. EOS, Volume 83, Issue 46, 12 November 2002, pp 526-533.
29) “Continental slope canyons off the United States Atlantic coast remain poorly studied, and in particular, the distributions of pelagic organisms in waters overlying these unique environments are not well documented. During the Early Career Scientist Deep Submergence Training cruise, AT36-EAGER, the distribution of organisms in the water column overlying Hydrographer Canyon, which cuts through the northwestern Atlantic continental margin, was investigated through daytime midwater observations using HOV Alvin (AD4831) at three depths. Mixed swarms of krill and Themisto sp. amphipods were observed at all depths surveyed. Observations centered at 250 m were also dominated by chaetognaths, copepods, and Phronima sp. amphipods, while at 500 and 750 m, the assemblages were dominated by the fishes in the families Paralepididae, Nemichthyidae, and Mytophidae. Additionally, measurements of methane, nitrous oxide, optical properties (absorbance and fluorescence), dissolved organic carbon, and base-extracted particulate organic carbon were made to better characterize the hydrography and biogeochemistry over Hydrographer Canyon. This study was aided by the use of telepresence to communicate between ship and shore-based researchers, and the expedition marks the first use of SMS messaging to communicate between the submersible and the ship. This study demonstrates the capabilities and utility of using Alvin for conducting water column science.” “First HOV Alvin study of the pelagic environment at Hydrographer Canyon (NW Atlantic)”, Amanda N.Netburn, Joanna D.Kinsey, Stephanie L.Bush, Anni Djurhuuse, Julianne Fernandez, Colleen L.Hoffmang, Doreen McVeigh, Katrina I.Twingh, Laura Baggei. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, Volume 150, April 2018, pp 30-40.
30) “…An array of instruments and facilities were used, including multi-beam, echo-sounding vessels, such as the French research vessel, Jean Charchot, the NOAA ship Surveyor, and the submersible DSRV Alvin, equipped with bottom transponder navigation and bottom photographic capabilities.” “Hydrothermal vents and polymetallic sulfides of the Galapagos and Gorda/Juan de Fuca Ridge systems and of submarine volcanoes”, Alexander Malahoff. Biol. Soc. Wash. Bull. No 6, 1985, pp 19-41.
31) “…The polychaete collections are exceptionally rich and remarkably well-preserved, such that even very small larval and post-larval forms are available for study. Four different methods of collection include: 1) specimens washed from the surface of larger animals gathered by DSRV Alvin, such as clams, mussels and vestimentiferans; 2) specimens washed from the surface of fouling panels taken from arrays recovered at Galapagos Rift after 11 months on the bottom; 3) specimens gathered from ‘slurp gun’ collections and from rock surface scrapings; 4) box cores from soft sediment taken by DSRV Alvin and R/V Gillis.”… “Polychaeta from the vicinity of deep-sea geothermal vents in the Eastern Pacific I: euphrosinidae, phyllodocidae, hesionidae, nereididae, glyceridae, dorvilleidae, orbiniidae,and maldanidae”, James A. Blake. pp 67-101 ibid.
32) “…To collect minute mollusks we 1) carefully sieved washings from equipment and geological samples brought to the surface in the Alvin basket and from the large biological samples brought to the surface in insulated retrieval boxes, with particular attention being paid to the water in the retrieval boxes, since many minute specimens fall to the bottom of the box during the trip to the surface; 2) …” “Modes of molluscan larval development at deep-sea hydrothermal vents”, R.D. Turner, R.A. Lutz, and D. Jablonski. pp 167-184 ibid.
33) “…The deep submergence research submarine Alvin was used to collect samples of animals, larvae and egg cases during the series of dives at the Galapagos Rift in 1977 and 1979 (approximately 0°48’N, 86°09’W, 2450 meters depth) and during the Oasis expedition during 1979 and 1982 on the east Pacific Rise (approximately 20°50’N, 109°06’W, 2600 meters depth).” … “Specimens were collected using the mechanical hands of Alvin and placed in thick-walled plastic containers for ascent. …” “ Reproductive strategies of mollusks from abyssal hydrothermal vent communities”, Carl J. Berg, Jr. pp 185-197 ibid.
34) “Sampling. – Samples were collected during the project oasis Expedition (April-May 1982) with the aid of the deep submersible research vessel (DSRV) Alvin at a depth of 2600 m, 20°50’N, 109°06’W, on the East Pacific Rise. …” “The role of sulfur-oxidizing bacteria at deep-sea hydrothermal vents”, Jon H. Tuttle. pp 335-342 ibid.
35) “Station locations and sampling protocols – The hydrothermal vent water samples analyzed in this study were obtained from two distinct spreading centers, using the manned submersible Alvin. …” “Effects of temperature on the growth and viability of hydrothermal vent microbial communities”, David M. Karl. pp345-353 ibid.
36) “Abstract – Materials collected from rock rubble, artificial substrates, and concentrated debris from water brought to the surface from the 21°N hydrothermal vent area by the DSRV Alvin contained many protest organisms, predominantly ciliates, most of which were new to science. …” “Preliminary observations of the protistan organisms, especially ciliates, from the 21°N hydrothermal vent site”, Eugene B. Small and Michael E. Gross. pp 401-410 ibid.
37) “All photographs were taken at or near Clam Acres using the submersible Alvin during the Oasis cruise to the 21°N hydrothermal site. Nineteen dives were made with two scientists on each. Time on the bottom ranged up to six hours, with each diver allocated multiple tasks representing different programs. The experience gained on all these dives helped form our impressions. Mapping of the site was done using our “clam-cam” survey camera. Clam-cam is a basket mounted, downward looking, survey camera and flash which, in conjunction with Alvin’s altimeter results in photographs with a known area. …” Spatial and temporal variation of giant clams, tube worms and mussels at deep-sea hydrothermal vents", ”Robert R. Hessler, William M. Smithey, Jr., and Clifford H. Keller. pp411-428 ibid.
38) “…Samples on individual mounds in the Galapagos region were taken by Alvin using modified 225 cm2 Ekman box cores containing four (56.26 cm2) subcores. …” “Deep-sea fauna of sediments in the vicinity of hydrothermal vents”, J. Frederick Grassle, L. Susan Brown-Leger, Linda Morse-Porteus, Rosemarie Petrecca, and Isabelle Williams. pp 443-452 ibid.
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Alvin Milestone attachment to bibliography: comments to explain selection of bibliographic reference.
1) Bathyscaphs have been lowered to great depths and the Trieste designed by Piccard and taken to the deepest part of the ocean is a bathyscaph without a tether. It had a propeller and some ability to move forward but otherwise limited mobility except the ability to descend to the greatest depth in the ocean and return to the surface. Its exploit is cited since it might be thought to diminish the unique capability of Alvin having preceded the launch of Alvin and exceeded the depth of Alvin but in fact wasn’t able to conduct the kind of research or operation on the seafloor that Alvin was able to do because of its limited maneuverability.
2) June 5, 1964 is a date in a published account of Alvin’s history and establishes a milestone in its design, construction, and eventual deployment. In fact the event described in the bibliography was not a true launch since there was no propeller or rudder yet; however it was otherwise complete and able to be put in the water.
3) The location of the H-bomb lost off the coast of Spain due to a midair collision of two US aircraft and the H-bomb’s recovery assist put Alvin on the map for the US Navy. First located March 24, 1966, the bomb’s cascade down slope and eventual relocation and assist in recovery took place April 7, 1966. This was a practical and extremely valuable service this deep diving submersible provided.
4) The accidental sinking of Alvin on October 16, 1968 in 5000 foot depth started a serendipitous field of hyperbaric microbiology. Eventually recovered ten months later, the flooded sphere contained the bag lunches for the three men planning to have dived when Alvin sank. Oddly the lunches were soaked in seawater but still edible, a surprise to all but microbiologist Holger Jannasch, who suspected the cold and pressure would retard bacterial decomposition.
5) The discovery that high pressure inhibited microbial decomposition, at least by surface water microbes, resulted in deeply deployed experimental chambers to study these effects in situ. Since this discovery, though serendipitous, is so important that it is expanded upon with event 4 and event 5 in the bibliography.
6) Bob Ballard played an important role in Alvin during the early 1970s and took his studies using Alvin to the continental shelf off New England where he found evidence of sea floor spreading, the opening of the Atlantic Ocean, through a unique geologic formation that was unlikely to be found without a human occupied submersible with a manipulator. Ballard went on to explore the Mid-Atlantic Ridge with a French team in project FAMOUS. These two projects by Ballard represent the geologic commencement of Alvin use.
7) Ballard, in project FAMOUS, took news people along with the Alvin crew to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and brought Alvin to the attention of a wider audience.
8) In 1977 Alvin took part in what was probably the biggest discovery of the decade, possibly the century, when in February 1977 it found and sampled unique marine organisms in great abundance and often large sizes at a hydrothermal vent. While this vent was on a section of ridge near the Galapagos Islands, similar and not so similar vents have subsequently been found in about 40 other places and studied continuously up thru the present (2019). It had been assumed by most biologists until this discovery that life on the deep seafloor depended upon sinking phytoplankton and other marine organism detritus from the surface where photosynthesis captured sunlight to create nutrients that could support sea floor life. But here the source was chemical from hydrogen sulfide dissolved from rock and subsequently metabolized by bacteria and made available for consumption by these unique organisms. There are some who say that this source of energy might have permitted life to form away from the harsh early conditions at the earth’s surface and indeed might be the source of life on other planets and moons of our solar system as well. Thus this discovery, due to a great degree from Alvin’s exploration of what was originally a geological study of deep ocean ridges, has led to a new model of how life on earth began and then how it continues today.
9) Ballard used the shipwreck, RMS Titanic, to further develop deep-sea submersible exploration. Jointly with a French team, with whom he had worked during FAMOUS, he obtained support from the US Navy to test an ROV that was of interest to the Navy. But it was the discovery of Titanic from a towed camera sled that pinpointed the wreck location and, with Alvin, he subsequently photographed Titanic and even deployed a small ROV, Jason Junior, to go inside the shipwreck. This caught the public’s attention as few other Alvin exploits did.
10) For the 50th birthday of Alvin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution produced a special issue of their biannual magazine, OCEANUS. This 51st volume, No. 1, Summer 2014, contains interviews with people associated with the rebuild and operation of Alvin.
11) A personal explanation by Holger Jannasch about his epiphany concerning the preserved bag lunches is recited. Instead of trying unsuccessfully to bring microbes up from the seafloor to study, take the experiments down to them with Alvin. This is the mode that microbiologists now employ. The deep sea microbes are adapted to the pressure and cannot be cultivated at normal atmospheric pressure.
12) Alvin was rebuilt between 2010 and 2013 and now contains its third personnel sphere, the 2nd and 3rd in titanium. Other changes permitted the present depth rating to 6,500 m.
13–29) references selected from those found by Goggle scholar and grouped by decade. 1971-1980
13) A hyperbaric microbiological study was begun based upon the discovery of the preservation of the Alvin bag lunches during the accidental sinking of Alvin in 1968.
14) Spherical acrylic Alvin windows would extend both the depth rating and the viewing angle over the original flat window with a new pressure hull for the submarine
15) Mid-Atlantic Ridge studies with Alvin in project Famous revealed detailed sedimentation rates from corer samples taken by the sub marine.
16) Excess 3He was found in the Pacific mid-water resulted from mid-water venting from hydrothermal vents containing 3He enriched water.
17) Observations of rich biological communities of organisms at vent sites was in opposition to the belief that the seafloor was devoid of living organisms.
18) A measurement of heat flow at mounds revealed that there was hydrothermal activity associated with the mounds.
19) Warm plumes with water as much as 10°C above ambient have been observed at ridges. 1981-1990
20) Tube worms have prokaryotic cells that may be responsible for providing nutrients to the worms from the vent fluids.
21) Sulfide mounds have been studied.
22) Submarine cliffs reveal layering in the Great Abaco Canyon.
23) Crabs have been recovered exhibiting rapid growth on submerged wooden panels at vent sites.
24) Observations at the Juan de Fuca site for more than 4 years have revealed the development and decay of hydrothermal vents. 1991-2000 25) Studies of the Hawaiian plume have been made.
26) Magnetics have been studied at the Juan de Fuca rift.
2001-2010 27) Ambient light has been observed at Mid-Atlantic vents. This could be how the blind shrimp find new vents and avoid becoming burned by hot vent fluid.
28) The new Alvin design will permit accessing >98% of the seafloor of the ocean.
29) Studies have been made at various depths in Continental Slope Canyons.
30-38) references were selected from volume no. 6 of the Biological Society of Washington Bulletin containing reviewed paper from a symposium on Hydrothermal Vents of the Eastern Pacific, containing reports on animals and vent communities largely discovered by Alvin in 1977, 1979, and subsequent visits to vent sites as they were discovered in the Eastern Pacific.
30) Chemical analyses of water revealed the high sulfide content and in some cases metalliferous content of vent fluids.
31) Macrobiota have been examined and collected by scrapings and box cores at vent locations.
32) Mollusks such as ship-worms thrive on scraps of wood that are deposited accidentally or purposely on panels at vent sites.
33) Successful recovery of vent animals requires protection from thermal shock. Thick walled plastic containers filled with bottom water provide some protection against lethal exposure to warm surface water upon ascent in Alvin.
34) Sulfur oxidizing bacteria are responsible for the extreme bio productivity of hydrothermal vents.
35) Growth of vent microbes depend on a specific temperature range and shut down when exposed to low temperature ambient bottom water, requiring elevated temperature to grow.
36) Protistan organisms exist in the vent water and have been collected and are mostly ciliates.
37) Photographs of vent communities show the variety and ecological communities of vents.
38) Box cores have augmented the recovery of organisms from vents where Alvin has been able to collect soupy samples that aren’t successfully recovered from a ship.
Figure 1. Sail of Alvin on the lawn at WHOI
Figure 2 Titanium personnel sphere on WHOI dock. This is the second of three spheres and the one that the photographer occupied in 1979 in a descent to the Galapagos hydrothermal vent.
Figure 3 The Woods Hole former Drugstore was the home of the Alvin Group during the early days of design, planning, and operation of Alvin. It now contains a Coffee Shop on the ground floor.
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