Transcript for The Voyage of the Lee, segment 14 of 21


April, nineteen eighty-four - her damage repaired, the Lee begins her northward passage, leaving behind the geologically passive continent of Antarctica for one of the most geologically dynamic regions on earth - the active island chains of the southwest Pacific where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common occurrences.

We are picking up the ship after its return from the Antarctic, and there's four lakes - the Tonga-Figi Lake, the Vanuatu Lake, the Solomon Islands Lake, and the Papua New Guinea Lake. The ship then will travel on to the Marianas and then through Hawaii and return to her home port of Redwood City sometime in October or November of this year, nineteen eighty-four.

As the Lee works in the Lau region of Figi, Greene and his co-Chief Scientist Sandy Macfarlane hack their way through the jungle growth of Malacula. They are part of another unit of the next leg of Operation Deep Sweep. These geologists are collecting rock samples to use as references aboard the Lee when she is dredging the sea floor off the island, and to use for appraisal of hydrocarbon source rock. Their travels take them to the interior of Malacula. Sometimes they make as much as ten miles a day along mosquito- and leech-infested river beds.

Okay, now to see the basal formation, the serrated formation, these lower to early middle Miocene rocks - what we'll do is we'll aim to get off the ship at Carombay here and walk up over the escarpment across the island and down to Naviso on the east coast. Now to do that, we're going to have to camp up on the top for one night, walk down the ridge, and then sleeping the night here, come back the following day to the ship.

Right.

And take off from there.

Well, that's about - that'll be about, what? Twenty kilometers, twenty-five kilometers, something like that?

All told, something like that. It may be a wee bit less, but a good days', two days' work.

A day or a day and a half work.

Right.

Okay.

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Sudden rains often make local roads impassable even for four-wheel-drive vehicles.

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On the other hand, the scientists find the natives generally helpful and inquisitive.

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Macfarlane, a resident of Vanuatu for many years, employs his knowledge of the local language to speak with the natives. For some island children these two scientists are the first Caucasians who have visited their villages. Their fear is clearly shown.

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Reconnaissance work of the area is also done from the air, the only way to quickly hop from one island to the next. The scientists make aerial observations of active volcanoes like this one on the Island of Tana in Vanuatu.

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Okay. Hey, what a pretty little bay? What is that bay, Guy?

That's Port Resolution, Gary, where Captain Cook careened the Endeavour in the early seventeen seventies. The interesting thing about it is there's about two meters less water in there now than there was then, according to his soundings. Evidently the sea floor has risen up a couple of meters since then, probably because of the volcanic activity in the area.

Yeah, there's a lot of volcanic activity here, and with the volcano here spewing out as much material as it is now and as active as it is, it sure indicates that the area is still very much active volcanically.