Day 15 | April 23, 2004 Uracas
Today the R/V Wecoma anchored inside the caldera of Maug. Erik and Joe landed on the east island and found an ideal site where we could bring fuel ashore and land the helicopter. When the helicopter arrived we ate Chinese food (prepared on the Wecoma) on this isolated rock in the Pacific. After lunch we refueled and took off for Uracas, the most remote and most active Mariana volcano.
We made a reconnaissance pass over the crater and found a perfect landing pad at the crater rim and spotted three fumarole sites. We were eager to collect gases and soon found a prime sampling site high on the south slope of the crater. We measured a temperature here of 130°C, making this the hottest fumarole we have sampled so far.
Once we had collected two good samples from that location we moved deeper into the crater and found a fumarolic area on the lower slopes, which were covered in sulfur deposits. We collected another good sample at this location.
In the meantime, Erik had been out searching for scoria. When the first European explorers passed Uracas there were just a few rocks above sea level. Since then the volcano has grown to 800ft, so there is plenty of fresh lava around. In his wanderings Erik came across a seabird nesting area and took great care not to step on any eggs.
That night we camped on dry stream deposits in amongst the sharp a'a lava flows. The calls of the seabirds (listen to audio clip) and the surf pounding on young lava flows kept me awake long enough to contemplate the wonders of this environment and how privileged we are to be here.