An elevator consists of a pole with a flat area for boxes, which contain various sampling devices, as well as steel weights, glass flotation devices encased in yellow plastic, and a transponder to find its location. The weight of the elevator is known and enough steel weights ensure that it goes to the bottom of the ocean.
Once samples are taken, they are placed into the boxes and the weights are released so that the flotation devices let the entire elevator go to the surface of the ocean. There the bosun and other seaman snatch it from the sea and attach a crane hook to the top of the elevator, which is then brought on deck. The scientists then retrieve the samplers from the boxes and start the laboratory portion of their research on these samples.
This process allows the Jason to stay on the bottom and do other field science such as surveys and sampling.
This night photo shows the elevator’s wooden boxes, which contain the titanium major samplers and microbial mat scoop samplers.
Alyssa Findlay and Mike McGinley unload the titanium major samplers out of the boxes on the elevator so they can process what was once hot hydrothermal vent water.