Small but perfectly formed ……

….. or is bigger necessarily always better?

The team have arrived on their urgency mission to the Azores to deploy some of our instrument platforms onto the seabed to record an earthquake swarm associated with a very recent volcanic eruption.

Working in the deep oceans has its advantages as arriving by aeroplane offers some spectacular views.

This is the island of Pico in the Azores, viewed from the aeroplane coming into land on the island of Faial, which the team will call home for the next week.

All of the islands in the Azores are volcanoes of varying sizes and shapes that rise up very steeply from the depths of the surround seabed.

They are, in reality, much bigger than their extent above sea level suggests.

To deploy our instruments we need a vessel, and we are used to working from quite large ones – normally more than 100m in length and 25m wide.

Our vessel for this deployment is not quite that big.

No – its not a yacht but the University of the Azores’ fishing research vessel Aquepeligo, which is berthed against the quay in the marina.

Up close its not quite as big as it looks at just 25m long.

This would fit sideways across the working decks of the vessels in the UK research fleet.

Small doesn’t mean its not perfect for the job in hand – which only involves deploying a few platforms onto the seabed.

An amply-spaced working deck ….

….. an A-frame with winch with a few 100m of wire …… sufficient for testing the acoustic releases that enable us to recover our platforms when we need to …. and for getting instruments into and out of the water …..

….. a dry lab space for equipment preparations ……

…. and, perhaps most importantly, a lab that is set-up to allow access to the working deck, but more importantly that enables wet things to be worked on under shelter.

So, we have a vessel, where is the instrumentation?

Still on a freighter that is currently working its way around all the other islands dropping off fresh food stuff and medicines.

So, while we wait for that to arrive we’ll do the tourist thing, and check out the local geology.

And the many bays that in the past were active craters on the volcano.

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