Giora Proskurowski is a Ph.D. student in Chemical Oceanography at the University of Washington. His research is an extension of Marv Lilley's work on hydrothermal vent volatiles. While Marv and Eric Olson primarily study the concentrations of these gases, Giora examines the isotopic composition of the primary carbon gases (CH4 and CO2). During the cruise Giora will be using a vacuum line to extract and save the gases dissolved in the hydrothermal fluid samples. Back on land, he will analyze the saved gases using a small mass spectrometer (the size of a small car) to count the number of 13C atoms compared to 12C atoms, and a huge mass spectrometer (the size of a building) to count the number of 14C atoms.
The differences in the weight of the molecules allows Giora to identify active processes (e.g. biological and magmatic activity) that have acted on the hydrothermal fluid, as well as different sources of carbon that may have been added to the fluid (e.g. sedimentary, seawater, or magmatic carbon). This cruise is exciting because it is exploratory, and every measurement and observation may yield an interesting discovery.