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Marine Geologist
Carol Hirozawa-Reiss

Carol inside the DSV TurtleAs a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Carol's job is to assist in fieldwork of various kinds. Her area of specialization is Coastal and Marine Geology, so her field work is often done at or under the sea, rather than on land. In the above photo Carol is on a dive inside the submersible DSV (Deep Submergence Vehicle) Turtle working as a scientific observer; it's the US Navy's equivalent of Alvin.

A Deep Diver

"It takes about an hour or more to travel the 2,200 meters down to the dark, murky depths of the ocean at this site. Here we are diving down to the Juan de Fuca Ridge, in the North Pacific Ocean, where two oceanic plates are spreading apart. The Turtle is taking us down to the ocean floor, which is over a MILE down. On this particular dive we were looking for a malfunctioning piece of sonar equipment." "The monitoring equipment we had previously deployed are intended to acoustically measure the rate of sea floor spreading over several years to a decade. This is one of the first scientific projects to attempt to measure the rate and/or episodes of spreading on a daily basis, rather than estimate and average them over thousands of years. It's a complicated problem, because in order to measure the distance between instruments based on the speed of sound through the water, one must also take into account the changing water pressure (tides) and temperature."

Carol's job as a scientific observer is also to take very detailed notes of the volcanic rocks on the sea floor. During the dive, she checks out what she's seeing through the submersible window, makes a note of it, and also records the time of her observations. Then, once back in the office, she and her team reconstruct the track of the submersible, using a very sophisticated combination of satellite navigation for the ship, and acoustic computer navigation equipment to triangulate the position of the submersible at any given time. Finally, this positional/location data is combined with the sea floor descriptions she made on the dive and it's all put together to create a geologic map of the ocean floor.

A Real Go Getter

"I'm (Japanese American) 5'3" and a slim 100 pounds, but I'm NOT a weakling! Some people may look at me and think I might not be able to help much, but those who know me know better. What sets me apart from others is my willingness to try something new, even if I have no experience. Because I am dedicated to learning new things (also coming up with new ideas) and willing to work, I observe and take mental notes, and soon I can step in and make myself useful.

Willingness to work hard, and self confidence; came after college, when I decided to learn to fly. Yep, I am also a pilot, scuba diver, occasional rock climber, wife and mother. I love life. Some of life is being in the right place at the right time, but life is also wanting and creating opportunities, rather than waiting for them to happen. It was a bold step for me to ask to be an observer on a deep sea dive, but my supervisor saw my dedication, and knew that I could do anything I set my mind to. I was rewarded with not one, but two opportunities to make dives. Read the interview with Carol Reiss...

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