How the Lyman V. Rutledge Marine Laboratory Was Born!

Two accounts come to us of how the Lyman V. Rutledge Marine Laboratory was born, courtesy of the Star Island staff and their archives. If you’ve ever wondered how this treasured education center ended up on such a small, granite Island well, then, you’re in luck. Simply read on!

Our first account comes from Frederick T. McGill on the lab’s 25th anniversary:Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 7.27.32 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-22 at 7.27.40 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-22 at 7.27.46 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-22 at 7.27.52 PMOur next account comes from Roland D. Greeley, the then president of the Star Island Corporation:Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 7.30.30 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-22 at 7.30.47 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-22 at 7.31.04 PMScreen Shot 2015-04-22 at 7.31.14 PM


Ever wonder about the sub that sank off Lunging Island?

What happened the morning of June 20, 1941 off the Isle of Shoals, New Hampshire that killed 33 men? On that tragic day, the USS 0-9 sank.


The precise location of the American submarine USS O-9’s final resting place remained unknown until September 20, 1997 when Glen Reem, a retired U.S. Navy Captain led a search and found it. He was aided by Klein Associates Inc.’s side-scan sonar equipment which took the above picture.

Images reveal  O-9 lying on its side on the ocean floor. Aft of the conning tower, the submarine appears crushed but the forward portion appears intact.

The below United States Navy photo of the USS 0-9 shows its launch on January 27, 1918 at the Fore River Shipbuilding Co., in Quincy, Massachusetts. After service protecting the East coast from German U-boats in World War I, the sub was used to train U.S. Navy sailors in World War II.uss_O9_sideview_600

The expedition that found the sub’s final resting place was made in 2004 expedition by  the Marine Sciences Program of the University of Connecticut research vessel Connecticut in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration, the states of Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and the History Channel.

Historic shots of the sea floor


Seafloor Snowblower

A historic shot of the sea floor in 1991 was taken from the submersible Alvin where scientists found themselves in something that looked like a snowstorm on the bottom of the sea. As the institution reports:

They had arrived soon after a seafloor volcanic eruption in which hydrothermal vents spewed huge volumes of white bacterial matter into the ocean at 9°50’N on the East Pacific Rise at a depth of 2,500 meters (8,250 feet).

The ocean, on average, is 4,267 meters (14,000 feet) deep. The deepest part of the ocean is called the Challenger Deep and is located in the southern end of the Mariana Trench (of the West Pacific Ocean). Challenger Deep is approximately 11,030 meters (36,200 feet) deep. It is named after the HMS Challenger, whose crew first sounded the depths of the trench in 1875.

This picture was taken in the Atlantic however. Rachel Haymon (UC Santa Barbara) and Dan Fornari (WHOI) were chief scientists on the expedition that made the first direct observation of these so-called “snowblower” vents and offered initial clues to a “deep biosphere” with potentially large populations of microorganisms living within the ocean crust at mid-ocean ridges.

(Photo by R. Haymon, D. Fornari, and the Alvin Group, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution). Find more WHOI pictures of the day here:

John W. Downs on his life at the Isles

The much beloved author John M. Downs published his account of the Isles of Shoals in 1944 after a lifetime living among the people who took part in the fishing, hotel and contemporary communities. He summarizes his need to write his own story this way:

Many stories have been written about the Isles of Shoals. Mine is to be a series of recollections–“Sprays of Salt.” I played on the rocks, a unrealizing child, as the poets and artists worked talents about me. The ocean they praised and painted was the ocean I owned and for seventy years this ocean owned me (Preface).

Down’s account of his life – told in vignettes – represents one of the most honest and clear view of the Isles. It’s one in which he quotes directly from numerous other sources. He writes:

The Isles are absolutely just rocks planted bleakly by some of nature’s craftmanship in the midst of a section of the ocean vaulted over by an everchanging sky and completely surrounded by the blue, green, temperamental waves which at times lapped the shores in listing submission and at others would dash thundering against the shores in a revolutionary tumult” (12).

Continue reading

A historic look at the geology of the Isles of Shoals

Continuing from our last post using Frank Preston Stearns’s Sketches from Concord and Appledore  of1895, now a look at the geology of the islands:

Their geological structure is more interesting. It is generally supposed that the soil of New England rests on a foundation of primeval granite but it is not exactly that. There is very little true granite in New England, what is taken for it commonly being syenite, a rock indeed that differs from granite only in the substitution of horn-blend for mica.



Above Stearns is describing syenite which modern geologists describe as a coarse-grained intrusive igneous rock of the same general composition as granite but with the quartz either absent or present in relatively small amounts (<5%).

The so-called Quincy granite is a finer sort of syenite, which in the White Mountains are composed of syenite kept with granite. The Isles of Shoals are also mostly syenite, but there are large boulders of coarse granite lying about, and in some places the syenite changes suddenly to granite as if the two had been welded together. Then there are dykes of dark brown trap or ancient lava, from four to ten feet wide running across the island from south-west to north-east, and others again at right-angles to these.

If you recall, or look back to the last post, you’ll notice that Stearns comments that the Islands were never mountain tops. Here he describes how they may actually have formed due to volcanic action millions of years ago.

This would seem to indicate that the elevation of the surrounding plateau was due to volcanic action. The structure of White Island is very different from the others, a large portion of the rock being studded with innumerable garnets, while veins of some greyish white minerals run through it in which there are still smaller garnets.

Sterans, Frank Preston (1895) Sketches from Concord and Appledore. G.P. Putnam and Sons: New York.