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Publication numberUS3572129 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateMar 23, 1971
Filing dateMar 8, 1968
Priority dateMar 8, 1968
Also published asDE1911782A1, DE1911782B2, DE1911782C3
Publication numberUS 3572129 A, US 3572129A, US-A-3572129, US3572129 A, US3572129A
InventorsAndre Marcel Rosfelder, Clifford E Schatz, Thomas N Walthier
Original AssigneeBear Creek Mining Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Free-fall bottom sampler
US 3572129 A
Abstract  available in
Images(4)
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

March 23,1971 T. N. wALTHn-:R ETA.`

FREE'FALL BOTTOM SAMPLER 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed March 8v, 1968 March 23, 1971 T. N. WALTHIER ETAL 3,572,129

FREE"FALL BOTTOM SAMPLER 4 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed March 8, 1968 m m N W W.

THo/nns 1V. WAL Tf1/ER HNDRE M. @asf-ELDER E SCHATZ l' ATTORNEYS United States Patent O 3,572,129 FREE-FALL BUTTOM SAMPLER Thomas N. Walthier, San Diego, Andr Marcel Rosfelder, lLa Jolla, and Cliord E. Schatz, San Diego, Calif., assignors to Bear Creek Mining Company, Salt Lake City, Utah Filed Mar. 8, 1968, Ser. No. 711,792 Int. Cl. G0111 l /08 ELS. 'CL '73C-425.2 21 Claims ABSTRACT F THE DISCLOSURE A bottom sampler to obtain a sample of the bottom of a body of water. A pair of clam shell jaws are pivotally connected to the base of an upright frame of the sampler. Hollow buoyant spheres are retained within the upright portion of the frame. The jaws are latched in an open position against the bias of resilient elements which close the jaws when the latch is released in response to impact with the bottom. Two weights, one on the back of each jaw stabilize the sampler during descent and fall off when the jaws close. A camera located within one of the hollow spheres photographs the bottom of the body of water from which the sample is taken. A unique signal-Hare and smoke producing device automatically actuates when the sampler returns to the surface. Other day or night signal devices such as a radio or flasher can also be used and provision is made to attach such devices to the sampler.

This invention relates generally to a bottom sampler to obtain a sample of the bottom of a body of water, and more particularly to such a sampler of the recoverable free-fall type which does not require a retrieving line between the sampler and the vessel from which it is launched or dropped.

More specifically, the invention relates to a unique freefall sea bottom sampler having clam shell type jaws which dig into and grab a sample of the bottom and the sampler then returns to the surface of the water with the sample. Although the sampler of this invention has other uses, it is of particular utility for obtaining samples of an ocean bottom to determine the presence of manganese modules in anticipation of sub-sea mining.

Among the features of the bottom sampler of this invention are a pair of clam shell jaws adjacent the bottom of an upright frame, oatation means in the form of hollow glass or plastic spheres retained by the frame, resilient means to close the jaws to obtain a sample of the ocean bottom, and a latch assembly actuated in response to impact of the bottom sampler with the ocean bottom to release the jaws so they close under the influence of the resilient means. The jaws are so arranged so that the weights which cause the sampler to sink to the bottom, are merely supported on each of the jaws and these weights create force moments which assist the resilient means during initial closing of the jaws. The weights fall off the jaws at an intermediate point during closing and hence, the sampler is returned to the surface by the iloatation devices. One of the spheres is transparent and provides a housing for a flash bulb equipped camera to photograph the portion of the ocean bottom from which the sample is taken. The camera is operated in a unique manner.

A signicant advantage of the sampler of this invention over the previously known coring type samplers is that this sampler takes a significantly larger sample than these prior known devices. In one embodiment, the back of each jaw of the sampler is completely closed and the entire grabbed sample is retained. In another embodiment, a mesh sack which allows washing out of the lines, extends 3,572,129 Patented Mar. 23, 1971 ice across the back of each jaw and clean samples of the nodules are recovered at the surface.

Additional features and advantages of the bottom sampler includes a structure which sinks in the water in a stable vertical position throughout its travel to the bottom. Such vertical stability is attributable, at least in part, to the location of the ballast weights adjacent the bottom of the sampler and the location of the floatation spheres above the weights. A distinct advantage of the arrangement is that the sampler is actuated to allow the jaws to close wholly by a mechanical system which is completely fool proof. Hence, even if a malfunction occurs the sarnpler will return to the surface where it can be recovered. Even where the sampler encounters a rough or uneven bottom with substantial slant, at least a small sample is taken and the sampler returns to the surface where it can be recovered. A known disadvantage of the coring type samplers is loss of the sampler where the coring device is driven into the bottom at an angle. Since the sampler of this invention does not rely on a coring tube or other similar device to take the sample its reliability is far better than the prior known devices.

The signal and flare device, which forms a portion of this invention, includes a unique mechanical blocking mechanism to prevent its actuation until the bottom sampler returns to the surface.

Numerous other features and advantages of the bottom sampler of this invention will become apparent with reference to the drawings which form a part of this specification and wherein:

FIG. l is a pictorial view of the sampler of this invention;

FIG. 2 is a partial enlarged side elevational view, with portions in section, of the jaw release mechanism;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken along lines 3-3 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a partial side elevational view, with portions thereof cut away, of the upper portion of the bottom sampler of this invention, and shows the mode of mounting a camera in the transparent sphere, and the fluid lens of the sphere;

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view showing a second type of jaw of the sampler, and showing the position of the various parts of the sampler immediately after the jaws are released;

vFlG. 6 is a view corresponding to FIG. 5 but showing the jaws closed;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the are and smoke signal device of the bottom sampler;

FIG. 8 is a sectional view taken along lines 8--8 of FIG. 7;

FIGS. 9-11 are side elevational views of the signal device, with FIG. 9 showing forces acting on the device during descent of the sampler, FIG. 10 showing forces acting on the device during ascent of the sampler, and FIG. 1l showing the signal device actuated; and

FIG. 12 is a wiring diagram of the camera shutter operating circuit of the bottom sampler.

Referring now to the drawings in detail and particularly to FIG. l, there is shown a sampler I1 constructed in accordance with this invention having a frame 2 including a base 3 and an upright portion or cage 4. Pivotally connected to base 3 are jaws 5 and 6 which are movable from the open position of FIG. 1 to the closed position of FIG. 6.

Jaws 5 and 6 are normally urged to the closed position by a plurality of resilient elements 7 which are advantageously formed from surgical tubing (of the type used in underwater spear guns) because of its high strength and elasticity. law actuating mechanism S interconnects the jaws when in the open position of FIG. 1 and maintains the jaws open until the bottom sampler hits the bottom of the body of water from which the sample is to be taken, whereupon the jaws are released, and close in a manner which will subsequently be described in detail.

Disposed within upright portion 4 are hollow spherical buoyant elements 9-11.

Weights 12 and 13 are supported, respectively, on jaws and 6 and cause the bottom sampler to sink to the bottom of the body of water in which it is dropped. The weights fall off when the jaws close to take a sample of the bottom, and the sampler is buoyed upwardly by spheres 9-11 and returns to the surface.

A combined flare and smoke producing device 14 connected to the top of upright portion 4 of the frame is actuated when the sampler surfaces and provides a signal to assist locating the sampler.

Base 3 is generally rectangular and includes horizontally elongated, upright rectangular side plates 15 and i16 in spaced apart parallel relation to each other and connected together by tubular cross members 17-19 which extend perpendicularly between the side plates. Tubular member 17 is welded at its ends to side plates 15 and 16 at a location adjacent the top edge of the side plates but centrally along their length. Tube 18 is welded to the side plates so it extends slightly below the bottom edge of the plates and is located adjacent one end of the plates. Tube 19 is similarly welded to the side plates adjacent the opposite end of the base. As is seen from FIG. 1, the tubular cross members 17-19 are each parallel with each other, and cross members y18 and 19 are disposed in the same horizontal plane. Tubular members 18 and 19 cooperate with side plates 15 and 16 to provide a base 3 of generally rectangular configuration as viewed in plan.

Welded to tubular cross member 18 and curving inwardly and then upwardly from the tubular member are a pair of tubular connectors 2() and 21 which extend approximately one fourth the height of upright portion 4 of the frame. Connectors 20 and 21 are fixed to tubular cross member 18 by welding and are in spaced apart parallel relation to each other. A second pair of tubular connectors 22 and 23 curve, rst inwardly and then upwardly, in the same manner as connectors 20 and 21 and are welded to tubular cross member 19 so they extend upwardly in spaced parallel relation to connectors 20 and 21. The arrangement is such that the upper ends of the connectors form a rectangular array.

Upright portion 4 of the frame includes elongated upright tubes 24-27, the lower ends of which extend respectively into the upper ends of tubular connectors 20-23 and are secured against longitudinal movement by lock pins or screws 28. IEach screw 28 extends through the wall of a tubular connector and through the wall of an upright tube to key the tubes to the connector.

The upper ends of upright tubes 24-27 extend through sleeves 29 fixed to a clamping ring 30. Sleeves 29 are secured to the clamping ring with their axes vertical and in the same rectangular array as that of connector tubes 20-23 and are spaced vertically above the connector tubes. It will be observed with reference to FIG. l that upright tubes and 26 terminate at the clamp ring whereas tubes 24 and 27 extend a substantial distance above the ring. As shown at FIG. 4, screws 31 threaded into sleeves 29 hold the clamp ring in position on tubes 24-27.

With reference to FIG. 4, three retaining studs 32-34 are fixed to clamp ring and project radially outwardly from the ring in equally spaced circumferential relation to each other. Each retaining stud has an enlarged head 35 by which a clamp assembly 36 is connected to clamp ring 30. Clamp assembly 36 has three equally spaced arms 37- 39 having upper ends secured to a threaded boss 40` positioned above the vertical axis of sphere 9. Each arm generally follows the curvature of sphere 9, has openings 41- 43 serially located adjacent the ends of the arms, the several openings of the respective arms each being spaced the same distance from the ends of the arms. Openings 41-43 are each slightly larger than the heads 35 of studs 34. Extending through threaded boss is a clamp bolt 4 44 which engages a bushing 45 on a resilent suction cup 46 pressed against the upper end of sphere 9. Suction cup 46 acts as a cushion between the sphere and clamp bolt 44 and prevents slipping.

Sphere 9 is comprised of two identical hemispherical shells, including an upper hemisphere 48 and a lower hemisphere 48, which are tightly held together by clamp assembly 36 and clamp ring 30. As shown at FIG. 4, the hemispherical shells abut along a horizontal joint 49. The surfaces of the halves at the joint are smoothly polished. A seal is provided between the abutting surfaces and may take the form of a thin metal or plastic gasket or silicone grease. Clamp ring 30 has an inside diameter slightly less than the diameter of sphere 9 so that lower hemisphere 48 seats in the clamp ring. Thus, when `pressure is applied to upper half 48 of sphere 9 by tightening clamp bolt 44 the hemispheres 47 and 48 will be tightly pressed together and sealed against leakage of water into the sphere. By making openings 41-43 slightly larger than the enlarged heads 35 of studs 32-34 it is merely necessary to unthread clamp bolt 44 several turns so that heads 35 of the studs can clear the openings whereupon the arms 37-39 may be flexed outwardly and clamp assembly 36 removed. Then upper hemisphere 47 can be lifted to open the sphere. Installation of clamp assembly 36 to close the sphere can be accomplished with equal facility. Resilient pads 48 (FIG. 4) between arms 37-39 and hemisphere 48 provide cushions to prevent damage when clamp assembly 36 is tightened. When the sampler is used in deep water, the high pressures er1- countered cause sphere 9 to shrink with the result that lower hemisphere 48 may then slip through clamp ring 30. This is prevented by retaining straps 49 (shown at FIG. l only) of which there are three, and which, are welded to clamp ring 30 at equidistantly spaced locations, follow the curvature of lower hemisphere 48, and are joined by welding adjacent the pole of the hemisphere.

Hemispheres 47 and 48 are advantageously formed from relatively thick glass or transparent plastic such as Plexiglas or Lucite which have good compressive strength. Mounted in the bottom of hemisphere 47 is a flat transparent plate 50 of circular outline which is cemented to the inside of the hemisphere.

A reinforcing strut 51 with a flat top edge and a curved lower edge conforming to the curvature of the inside 0f hemisphere 47 extends across the center of plate 50 between the plate and the hemisphere to brace the plate against bending. Mounted on plate 50 is a bracket including clamps 52 and 53 which engage the opposite ends of and hold a camera 54 securely to the plate. Plate 50 is so mounted in hemisphere 47 that the plate extends at an angle of 30 to horizontal when the sampler is in its normal upright position. Lens 55 of camera 54 is a parallel with plate 50 and thus, the axis of the lens extends at a angle with horizontal. It will be observed with reference to FIG. 4 that the camera is located essentially mid-way between adjacent upright tubes as well as between straps 49 and thus, can photograph a portion of the bottom of the body of water from which a sample is taken. Camera 54 advantageously has a selfcontained flashbulb unit 56 synchronized with the shutter of the camera to illuminate the portion of the bottom which is photographed.

The space between plate 50 and the inside surface of hemisphere 47 is filled with a transparent fluid 53 to provide a fluid lens 54'. The fluid lens provides a unique way to eliminate the distorting effect of imperfections in the inner surface of the hemisphere and also avoids distortion of a picture taken by the camera due to the curvature of the hemisphere. The refractive index of fluid 53 is so chosen as to eliminate, so far as is pOssible, the adverse effects of differences between the refractive index of the hemisphere material and the refractive index of sea water. It has been found that water works quite well as fluid 53 and matches the refractive indices mentioned above sufficiently well that no extensive distortion of a photograph taken at the bottom occurs. The iiuid lens 54 has two significant functions, first, it eliminates the effect of imperfections of the inner surface of the hemisphere on light travelling from the inside to the outside of the hemisphere, and second, it eliminates considerably distortions due `to the curvature lof the hernisphere.

Where complete elimination of distortion is required, a ring 55 of a diameter essentially the same as the diameter of plate 50 is cemented to the outside of hemisphere 47 with its axis aligned with the center of plate 50. Fitted into ring 55 is an outer plate 57 which is spaced slightly from the outside surface of hemisphere 47. Thus, there is a second space between the outside surface of hemisphere and outer plate 57. Where the ring and outer plate are used, both the space between plate 50 and the inside of the hemisphere, and plate 57 and the outside of the hemisphere are lled with a transparent fluid 53 of the same index of refraction as the hemisphere material. When the spaces are so filled with material of the same refractive index, the hemisphere material is eliminated optically from the fluid lens. Thus, no distortion at all occurs because the camera lens is parallel to both plates 56 and 57 and thus, the distorting effects of refraction are completely eliminated by the liuid lens 54'. Advantageously, no high pressure seals are required since the lens does not have parts that extend through the hemisphere 47. In addition, since the space within ring 55 is filled with a liquid (which is compressible), high external pressures will not damage the liquid lens.

Strut l is advantageously painted completely black. The absorptive effect of a black color on light substantially eliminates reverberation of light through the fluid 53 from flash unit 56 to the lens of camera 54, when the flash unit is fired.

The shutter of camera 54 is actuated in a unique manner. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 12, a solenoid 57 is connected in series circuit relation with a switch 58 and a battery 59, all contained within sphere 9. Solenoid 57 has a plunger 60 connected to the shutter of the camera to operate the shutter when solenoid 57 is energized. Switch 58 is a magnetically actuable glass enclosed reed switch, of the normally open type, having a movable magnetic contact 61 and a stationary contact 62. Switch 58 is mounted on the inside surface of hemisphere 57. Engaging hemisphere 47 on the outside immediately opposite switch 58 is an actuator tube `63 formed of nonmagnetic material such as stainless steel, which is readily weldable and has an open top end and a bottom end with a small, centrally located opening therein. Located within tube 63 is a cylindrical magnet 64 and a spring 65 disposed between the magnet and the lower end of tube 63. A string 66 is connected to the bottom of the magnet and extends through the opening in the bottom of the tube. String 66 is maintained taut (before the jaws are released) to hold magnet 64 in a lowered position within tube 63, and spring 65 is under compression. Since magnet 64, in this position, is substantially below switch 58, the switch contacts remain open. However, when the string v66 is released, spring 65 forces the magnet upwardly and switch contacts 61 and 62 close as magnet 64 passes by switch 58. With string 66 released, magnet 64 ultimately assumes an upper position above switch 53 and adjacent switch 58', the switch 58' controlling a radio or a iiasher (not shown) inside the hemisphere to facilitate recovery, as will be explained later.

.law 5 is fabricated from a pair of parallel side plates 67 and 68 spaced apart a distance slightly greater than the distance between the outside surfaces of side plates and 16 of base 3. Side plates 67 and 68 are each formed from heavy gauge sheet metal and have rear edges 69 and 70 respectively, which form the rear face of jaw 5. Side plates 67 and 68 also have front edges 71 CII which form a front face of jaw 5, the front edges being sharpened along a substantial portion of their length to form a knife edge 72 which assists cutting or slicing a sample when the jaws close. Side plates 67 and 68 each have a first side edge 73 which extends at an acute angle to front edge '71 and merges with both the front edge and the rear edge of the respective plates at smoothly rounded corners 74 and 75. At the opposite ends of side plates 67 and 63 is a side edge 76 which extends generally perpendicularly to front edge 71. Adjacent corners 75 of side plates 67 and 68 is a tubular cross-member 77 which is welded to the inwardly facing surfaces of the side plates. Bolts 7S and 79 which pass through openings in the side plates adjacent corners 74, 75 pivotally mount jaw 5 on the base. A toothed cutter Sti extends between side plates 67 and 68; is secured to the side plates and lies against side edge 76, cutter blade S0 is so mounted on the side plates that it is tangent to a circle about the pivotal axis of the jaw.

Rear edges 69 and 70 of side plates `67 and 68 each slope rst downwardly toward front edges 71 of the plates and then curve arcuately upwardly before merging with side edge 76 to form upwardly facing arcuate cradles 82 and 83 in the respective side plates.

As shown at FIG. l, weight l2 has a cylindrical body 84 with enlarged cylindrical ends S5 and 86. Body 84 is slightly longer than the distance between plates 67 and 68 and thus, the inwardly facing transverse surfaces 87 of ends 85 and 86 extend beside the outer surfaces of side plates 6'/ and 68.

I aw 6 is identical to jaw 5 and in the position shown at FIG. 1, jaw 6 is merely jaw 5 rotated 180 in a horizontal plane. Thus, jaw 6 includes spaced apart side plates 87 and 88, a cross-member 89 extending between secured side plates, and a sample slicing or cutting blade 90 secured to and extending between the side plates. The side plates 87 and 83 have front edges 91 with sharpened knife edges 92, and rear edges 93 each having a weight receiving cradle 94 which faces upwardly when the jaws are in the open position of FIG. 1. Jaw 6 is pivotally mounted on base 3 with bolts 94. Weight 13 is identical to weight 12 and has a body 95 with enlarged ends 96 and 97. Ends 96 and 97 extend on each side of side plates 87 and 88 in the same manner as described for weight 12, when weight 13 is placed in cradles 94.

As shown in FIG. 1, jaws 5 and 6 have both an open front and an open back. The open back of jaw 6 is closed by a sample retaining sack or bag 98 which extends across the side plates and is secured to them at the rear edges 93. Sack 98 also extends to and is secured to rear edge 99 of cutter blade 90. A series of spaced apart openings formed adjacent the rear edges of the side plates and cutter blade 90 provide for sewing or tying the sack to the jaw with cord by threading the cord through the openings. Sack 93 is formed from a flexible imperforate web or can also be net or other mesh material sewn and dimensioned to bulge outwardly when the jaws are closed, as shown at FIG. 6. Advantageously, sack 98 is formed from a flexible non-elastic material such as canvas or line mesh fish net. An identical sack 161 extends across the rear face of jaw 5 and is similarly secured to the jaw.

FIGS. 5 and 6 show jaws 5 and 6 in modified form as well as base 3' in modified form. Here, side plates 15 have bottom edges -17 and 18 which slope downwardly to meet at an apex 19'. Jaw 5', while essentially the same as jaw 5, shown at FIG. 1, has a side plate 67' with a front edge 71 comprised of edges 72' and 73 which slope toward each other and meet at a point 74'. In addition, edge '72 extends to the front edge of cutter blade `80, edge 72' being sharpened to facilitate slicing a sample when the jaws are closed. J aw 6 is identical to jaw 5 and includes a modified side plate S7 with a bottom edge 8S comprised of edges 89' and 90 which extend at an angle to each other and meet at a point 91. Edge 90 extends to the front edge of cutter blade 90. Except for these modications of jaws 6', and base 15', the sampler of FIGS. 5 and 6 is identical to that of FIG. l.

The jaws are moved from the open position of FIGS. 1 and 5 to the closed position of FIG. 6 by resilient elements 7. As shown in FIG. l, there are three resilient elements which take the form of lengths of surgical tubing with their ends interconnected by separable fasteners 102 to form closed bands 103-105. As shown with reference to band 105, each band has an end 106 which is looped over cross tube tube 77 and extends downwardly under cross tube 1S, a second end 107 which is looped over cross tube 89 and extends downwardly across tube 19 and legs 108 and 109, which extend respectively between cross tubes 18 and 19, with leg 109 extending over cross tube 17. Since the pivotal connections for jaws 5 and 6 as provided respectively by bolts 78, 79 and 94 are inwardly of cross tubes 18 and 19 around which the bands 103-105 extend, a substantial lever arm is provided to assure good closing of the jaws, when released.

Iaws 5 and 6 are held in the open position against the biasing action of resilient element 7 by jaw actuating mechanism 8 located vertically above the horizontal center of these three.

The jaw actuating mechanism includes a horizontal connector 111 (FIG. 2) to which arms 112 and 113 are connected adjacent their upper ends for pivotal movement about horizontal axis by pins 114 and 115. As shown at FIG. 3, connector 111 is H-shaped as viewed in plan and arms 112 and 113 extend into the vertical slots of the connector. Arm 112 has a notch 116 adjacent its upper end, the notch being defined in part by an inwardly extending cable retaining nger 117. Similarly, arm 113 has a downwardly facing notch 11S which is dened in part by an inwardly extending cable retaining finger 119. Arm 112 has an elongated downwardly extending tapered leg 120 and arm 113 has an elongated downwardly extending tapered leg 121. The lower ends of legs 120 and 121 extend into an upwardly facing recess 122 of a retaining cup 123. An elongated rod 124 is xed to the center of the cup and extends upwardly through an opening centrally located in connector 111, the rod having its upper end threaded to permit threading the rod into a nut 125 imbedded in the bottom of a suction cup 126. As shown at FIGS. l and 2, suction cup 126 is adhered to the bottom of sphere 11 with its center along the vertical axis of the sphere.

Fixed to the center of cross-tube 77 of jaw 5 is a retaining cable 127 having a loop 128 at its inner end. A cable 129 is xed to the center of cross-tube 89 of jaw 6 and also has a loop 130 at its inner end. Cables 127 and 129 hold jaws 5 and 6 in the open position with loop 128 extending into notch 116 and loop 130 extending into notch 118. The inwardly extending portions of fingers 117 and 119 prevent the cables from slipping downwardly off the ingers, so long as arms 120 and 121 are held by cup 123. The resilient elements 7 which normally tend to close jaws 5 and 6, maintain cables 127 and 129 taut and in position in the notches. It will be noted, with reference to FIG. 2, that the line of action of cables 127 and 129 is slightly below the axis of pivot pins 114 and 115 and thus, if retaining cup 123 is moved downwardly, legs 120 and 121 will each pivot outwardly away from rod 124, the cables will be released, and the jaws will close under the action of resilient elements 7.

As shown at FIG. l, sphere is connected to sphere 11 by a double ended suction cup which lies along the vertical axes of the spheres. Spheres 10 and 11 are each formed from glass or plastic and are hollow but have considerable mass. Thus, when the sampler 1 is in the water, with the jaws open, spheres 10 and 11 exert an upward pull on the cup to retain the lower ends of legs 120 and 121 in recess 122 of the cup. The sampler descends quite rapidly through the water because of ballast weights 12 and 13 and when base 3 of the sampler strikes the bottom, spheres 10 and 11 momentarily continue to move downwardly because of their inertia, as shown at FIG. 5. Retaining cup 123 is thus pushed downwardly relative to the arms (downward movement of the arms being prevented by the cables) so the legs are released and arms are free to pivot outwardly thereby releasing the cables and allowing jaws 5 and 6 to close.

As shown at FIGS. l and 8, flare and signal assembly 14 is secured to the upper end of upright tube 24. The upper end of tlare assembly 14 extends above the upper end of sphere 9. As shown at FIG. 8, the lower end of flare assembly 14 has a diameter slightly less than the inside diameter of the tube 24 and has self cutting threads 141 to permit threading the llare assembly into the tube. End 140 merges with a cylindrical body 142 at a shoulder 143 which acts as a stop to limit the amount the flare can be threaded into tube 24. Body 142 is cylindrical and has a reduced diameter portion 144 that merges with body 142 at transverse upwardly facing shoulder 145 which provides a seat for the lower end of a closure sleeve 146. Projecting from the upper end of portion 144 is an integral tube 147 which is internally threaded to receive the threaded tip of a primer assembly 148 of a are and smoke cartridge 149.

The upper end of sleeve 146 is closed by a bushing 150 having a plug portion 151 that extends into the sleeve. A transverse shoulder 152 of the bushing abuts the end of the sleeve. The bushing is permanently and hermetically fixed to the sleeve by an epoxy cement 152 solidied in opposed annular grooves around the bushing and the upper end of the sleeve, as shown at FIG. 8. Bushing has a central opening 153 that is closed by a plug 154 which is friction t in the opening. A retaining string or wire 154 is connected between plug 154 and bushing 150 to retain the plug against loss when the are is fired. Suitable O-ring seals are provided between the head of plug 154 and the top face of bushing 150 as well as around the stem of plug 154 to prevent leakage of water through bore 153. A suitable O-ring is also provided between body 142 and the lower end 0f sleeve 146 to prevent leakage of water into the flare assembly at the joint between the body 142 and the sleeve.

Body 142 has a bore 155 which terminates a short distance from the bottom of lower end 140. A tiring pin 156 is slideable in bore 155 and a helically wound spring 157 extends between the bottom of tiring pin 156 and the lower end of bore 155. Firing pin 156 has an upwardly facing tapered shoulder 158 and a rounded tip 159 projecting upwardly up from the shoulder.

A transverse bore 160 is formed in body 142 and has its axis tangent to the circumferential surface of bore 155. A shear pin 161 extends into and is journalled for rotation in bore 160. Shear pin -161 has a ilat 162 formed therein, as by milling, the ilat being aligned with a surface of bore 155. Opposite flat 162 is a rounded portion 163 of the shear pin which, in the position shown, extends radially into bore 155 and engages shoulder 158 of firing pin 156 to maintain the pin in a depressed or loaded position in which spring 157 is compressed.

lShear pin 161 has an enlarged head 164 by which the shear pin is connected to an operating assembly 165. Operating assembly 165 includes a straight arm 166 to which head `164 is connected intermediate the ends of the arm. Fixed to the lower end of arm 166 is a flexible vane 167 which extends upwardly and curves outwardly away from the arm. A loat 168 is secured to the upper end of arm 166 and extends beside sleeve 146 when operating assembly 165 is in the position of FIGS. 7-10 in which the tiring pin is cocked. It will be noted that arm 166 is connected to float 168 at a position olf-set to one side of the center of the oat. Connected to and extending downwardly from the opposite side of iloat 168 is a vane 169, vane 169 curving outwardly. A stop pin 170 is secured to float 1168 and prevents counter-clockwise movement of operating assembly 165 (as shown at FIG. 9) relative to flare 14 by engagement of the pin with sleeve 146 of the flare.

Cartridge 149 includes an elongated cylinder of smokeproducing compound 171 which extends upwardly within sleeve 146 from primer 148 to bushing 1-50. Smokeproducing compound 171 has a central opening the upper end of which is closed by a are cartridge 172. Thus, when tiring pin 156 is released it strikes primer 173 at the base of primer tube 1148 and ignites the Primer, which in turn ignites smoke producing compound 171 and ilare cartridge 172.

-Operating assembly 165 prevents rotation of shear pin 161 to the position in which tiring pin 156 is released, until the sampler has surfaced. As shown at FIG. 9, during descent of the sampler the water through which the sampler passes exerts a force, as shown by arrows 174, on the underside of vane 169 thereby bowing the vane outwardly and exerting a counter-clockwise moment of force on operating assembly 165. This counter-clockwise moment of force merely urges pin 170 against the side of sleeve 146 and thus, oat 168 remains upright and the operating assembly does not rotate. During descent, vane 167 is pressed inwardly toward arm -166 by the water through which the sampler passes and thus, vane 167 creates only a minimal clockwise moment of force on operating assembly 165. Thus, operating assembly 165 prevents firing flare 14 while the sampler is descending.

A shallow water seal arrangement is provided between bore 160 and shear pin 161. This seal arrangement includes an annular groove 173 in which an O-ring 174 is seated. At shallow depths, O-ring 173' prevents leakage of water between shear pin 161 and bore 160.

In addition, a high pressure seal arrangement is also provided. With reference to FIG. 7 a seal ring i175 is disposed between the inside surface of head 164 of shear pin 161 and the outer surface of body 142 of the lower end of the ilare. In addition, it will be noted that shear pin 161 is slightly shorter than bore 161D so that the shear pin can move axially in the bore. Since the area within seal ring 175 is substantially less than the area of head 164 exposed to Water pressure, the pressure of the water exerts a substantial force tending to push shear pin 161 further into bore 160, when the sampler reaches a substantial depth in the water. As a result of the pressure and movement of the shear pin, seal 175 is forced tightly against the surface of body 142 to provide a high pressure seal and there is suiicient friction between seal i175 and body 142 to prevent rotation of the shear pin 161 or operating assembly 165 after the sampler reaches a substantial depth.

After a sample is taken and the sampler ascends, as shown at FIG. 10, the Water pressure gradually decreases as the sampler approaches the surface and the friction between seal 175 and body 142 is no longer sufficient to prevent rotation of operating assembly 165. However, as the sampler ascends vane 167 is bowed outwardly by the water as shown by arrows 176, FIG. 10, whereas vane 169 is collapsed against the side of float 168. Thus, a counter-clockwise moment of force again acts on operating assembly 165 and lloat -168 remains upright because of engagement of pin 170 with the side of the are.

When the sampler surfaces Hare 14 extends above the surface of the water. Thus, there are no external forces acting on operating assembly 165. However, since float 168 is mounted at a position offset to one side of arm 166, the `float exerts a clockwise moment of force which causes operating assembly 165 to begin rotating in a clockwise direction as shown at FIG. 1l. As soon as flat 1162 of shear pin 161 begins to engage shoulder 158 of tiring pin 156, a torque is exerted on the shear pin by the tiring pin and correspondingly the operating assembly is rapidly rotated to the position of FIG. 1l in `which tiring pin 158 is free to strike primer 173. When at `162 is aligned with the side of bore 155, firing pin 156 is released to strike the primer and ignite smoke cartridge 171 and tlare 172. As ilare 172 is projected from the flare assembly it provides an illuminated signal to personnel on the ship from which the sampler was dropped. In addition, smoke producing compound 171 produces smoke for a considerable length of time after the flare is lixed.

Flare assembly 14, in some instances, is quite desirable as Iwhere a number of samplers are dropped in the same area and where ocean currents do not cause considerable drift of the samplers, However, a radio homing device can also be used to advantage. Such a homing device may take the form of a small transmitter located within sphere 9, the transmitter being arranged to either provide a signal from the time the sampler is dropped, or to be set into operation when camera 54 is triggered or as magnet 64 reaches a position opposite switch 58'. Where such a radio transmitter is used direction finding equipment is provided on the mother ship from which the sampler is dropped, and since several ships are frequently used to obtain representative samples of a certain area of the ocean lloor, a second direction finder on another ship facilitates locating the surfaced sampler.

The homing device of course can take the form of a radio transmitter in a sealed package mounted on the frame of the sampler. For nighttime recovery of the sampler after it has surfaced, a flashing light may be located either inside sphere 9 and arranged to operate in the same manner described for the radio homing device, or can be located in a pressure type case and mounted on one of legs 24-27.

To facilitate retrieving the sampler after it has returned to the surface of the body of water in which it is dropped, a retrieving line is advantageously provided between the ends of legs 25 and 27, as shown at FIG. l. This retrieving line facilitates catching the sampler with a boat hook.

OPERATION AND USE Prior to dropping the sampler into the water where the bottom is to be sampled, camera 54 is loaded and positioned in lower hemisphere 47. The lower hemisphere is then positioned in clamp ring 30, upper hemisphere 48 is placed on the lower hemisphere, the clamp assembly 36 is fitted on the clamp ring, and clamp bolt 44 is tightened to seal upper hemisphere 48 to lower hemisphere 47.

Next, jaws 5 and 6 are moved to the open position of FIG. l using a suitable jaw-loading tool to open the jaws against the bias of resilient element '7, and the jaws are latched in position by connecting cables 127 and 129 to jaw actuating mechanism 8. Since the weight of spheres 10 and 11 tends to normally release jaw actuating mechanism 8 when the sampler is out of the water, the jaw actuating mechanism is temporarily locked in the latched position of FIG. 2 with rubber bands that extend under cup 123, and are cut after the sampler is lowered into the water but before it is released.

Weights 112 and 13` are placed in the cradles of the respective jaws and sampler 1 is then ready to be used.

In use the sampler is merely lowered into the water at the desired location where a sample of the bottom is to be taken, in the upright position of FIG. l, and is then released. With weights 12 and 13 in position, the sampler has a negative buoyancy sufficient to cause the sampler to sink at a rate of l0() ft./min. to 300 ft./min., depending of course on the density of the water in which the sarnpler is dropped, and the mass of the weights. As soon as spheres 10 and 11 are in the water, an upward pull is exerted 0n rod 124 and cup 123 remains engaged with the arms 112 and 113 of the operating assembly. Thus, the jaws are held in the open position after the rubber bands are cut and throughout descent of the sampler.

As shown at lEIG. 5, the instant sampler 1 hits bottom `177 of the body of water in which the sampler is dropped,

1 l the inertia of spheres 10 and 11 causes the spheres to continue to move downwardly. Such downward movement of spheres 10 and 11 pushes cup 123 downwardly which releases arms 112 and 113 allowing cables 127 and 129 to release, thereby freeing jaws 5 and 6 to close under the iniiuence of resilient elements 7.

As shown at FIG. 1, string 66 is connected to cross member S9 of jaw 6. When the connection is made between the string and the jaw, the string is made taut so magnet 64 is pulled to the position of FIG. 4 wherein the magnet is below reed switch 58 and spring 65 is compressed. The string is preferably made of a thin thread which readily breaks as jaws 5 and 6 close. As soon as the string 66 breaks, the magnet is free to move upwardly under the iniiuence of spring 65. When magnet 64 is immediately opposite reed switch 58, contacts 61 and 62 are magnetically attracted to each other, causing the contacts to close whereupon shutter 55 is operated by solenoid 57 and liashbulb 56 is simultaneously actuated to obtain a photograph of the bottom of the body of water from which the sample is taken. Continued upward movement of the magnet actuates switch 58', as previously explained to actuate the auxiliary signal devices.

It will be observed with reference to FIG. l that front edges 71 and 91 of the respective jaws extend at an acute angle to the surface of bottom 177 upon initial impact of the sampler with the bottom. As soon as jaw actuating mechanism 8 s released, the resilient elements initiate closing of the jaws, and weights 12 and 13 exert downwardly acting forces which assist the initial closing of the jaws into bottom 177. As the jaws dig into the bottom, sacks 98 and 101 begin to till and are forced outwardly beyond the rear faces of the jaws thereby unseating weights 12 and 13 which merely roll out of the cradles in the respective jaws. As soon as weights 12 and 13 are displaced from the jaws, the buo-yant force of spheres 9-11 tends to lift the sampler. Thus, as jaws 5 and 6 close under the forces from resilient elements 7, a substantial pull is applied to the sampler which pulls the sample between the jaws free from the bottom and then returns the sampler to the surface. Cutters 80 and 90 engage each other when the jaws are closed, and front edges 71 and 91 oppose each other. When sampler 1 reaches the surface, fiare 14 tires in the manner previously described to indicate that the sampler is surfaced. The sampler is then recovered and the bottom sample in the jaws can be examined.

With reference to the modified embodiment of the sampler shown at FIGS. 5 and 6, when the sampler engages the bottom, the points 74' and 91 of the jaws 5' and 6 sink slightly into bottom 177 as does point 19 of base plate 1S. In addition, the sloping edges 87 and 91 of jaw 6 and the sloping edges 72' and 73 of jaw 5 cooperate with the sloping edges 17 and 19 of the base to provide an inherently stable base which virtually eliminates any possibility of tipping of the sampler even where bottom 177 slopes substantially. As shown at FIG. 6, when jaws 5 and 6 close edges 72 and 89 are in abutting relationship to each other and correspondingly oppose each other in addition, the cutters 80 and 90 engage each other so that a substantial area within the jaws is closed against loss of the sample taken when the jaws close. As jaws 5 and 6 were moving to the position of FIG. 6 the portion of bottom 177 sliced by the jaws cause bulging of bags 98 and 101 with the result that weights 12 and 13 were forced out of the cradles and rolled to one side of the opening 178 formed by the jaws.

To reuse the sampler, it is merely necessary to provide new weights 12 and 13, reload camera 54, and provide a new flare assembly 14. Then, the jaws are reopened, held in position by operating assembly 8 as previously described, and the sampler is again dropped into the water where it performs the same bottom sampling operation just described.

While a preferred embodiment of the sampler of this invention has been shown and described, it is to be understood that numerous changes and modifications are contemplated. For example, while the backs of the jaws are shown closed with a fiexible member or web which may be either imperforate or of meshed material, a sheet metal plate suitably formed to permit accommodating the weights 12 and 13 in their respective cradles may also be used to close the backs of the jaws. In addition, it is contemplated that flotation devices other than hollow spheres 10 and 11 for example, solid spheres or blocks can be used to provide buoyancy for the sampler. In addition, plastics impregnated with gases or having air cells therein may be used to provide the desired buoyancy. Also, suitable bracing can be provided within hollow spheres 10 and 11 or these spheres can be filled with a low density liquid to prevent implosion.

Thus, while some of the contemplated changes that can be made in the preferred embodiment without departing from the scope of the invention as herein contemplated have been listed above, it is intended that the scope of the invention shall be as defined herein and in the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

1. A free-fall sampler to obtain a sampler of the bottom of a body of water comprising:

a frame;

first and second jaws mounted on said frame for movement between an open position, and a closed position in which said jaws oppose each other and present a sample retaining cavity; jaw moving means carried by said frame to move said jaws from said open position to Said closed position; means to operate said jaw moving means to close Said jaws when said sampler is on the bottom of the body of water; ballast means releasably supported by said frame; means to release said ballast means in response to movement of said jaws toward said closed position; and

buoyant means on said frame to return the sampler to the surface of the body of water after the ballast means are released.

2. A bottom sampler according to claim 1 wherein said jaw moving means includes:

resilient energy storing means carried by said frame to move said jaws from said open position to said closed position.

3. A sampler according to claim 2 wherein:

said means to operate said jaw moving means comprises:

retaining means on said frame to maintain said jaws in said open position against the action of said resilient means, and operating means responsive to landing of said sampler on the ocean floor to release said retaining means.

4. An ocean bottom sampler according to claim 3 wherein:

said jaws are mounted on said frame for pivotal movement about horizontal axes;

said retaining means comprises:

a first retaining element connected to said first jaw,

a second retaining element connected to said second jaw, and

a connector releasably interconnecting said retaining elements and opposing the action of said resilient means; and

said operating means includes:

force transmitting means associated with said connector and operable to release same in response to landing of said sampler on the bottom of the body of water.

5. A bottom sampler according to claim 2 wherein: said resilient means comprises:

a plurality of elongated elastic members each connected between said irst jaw and said second jaw whereby, said jaws are each closed under the inuence of a force of like value.

6, A bottom sampler according to claim 1 which further includes:

signal means to facilitate locating the sampler after it has surfaced. 7. A bottom sampler according to claim 1 wherein: said frame is vertically elongated and includes a plurality of upright members defining a cage therebetween; said buoyant means comprises:

a plurality of hollow buoyant members; and said buoyant members are retained in said cage. 8. A free fall sampler to obtain a sample of the bottom of a body of water comprising:

a frame; rst and second jaws mounted on said frame for movement between an open position, and

a closed position in which said jaws oppose each other and present a sample retaining cavity;

a jaw moving means carried by said frame to move said jaws from said open position to said closed position;

means to operate said jaw moving means to close said jaws when said sampler is on the bottom of the body of water;

ballast means releasably supported by said frame and released in response to movement of said jaws toward said closed position; and

buoyant means on said frame to return the sampler to the surface of lthe body of water after the ballast means are released;

and wherein:

said jaws are mounted on said frame for pivotal movement about horizontal axes; and

said ballast means are supported on said jaws, in said open position of the jaws, outwardly of said horizontal axes to exert a moment of force assisting said jaw moving means to move said jaws to said closed position.

9. A sampler according to claim 8 wherein:

said buoyant means includes:

a hollow buoyant element supported by said frame and having a transparent wall portion;

and which further includes a camera within said buoyant element; and

support means supporting said camera in said buoyant element in a position to photograph the bottom of the body of water when the sampler is landed on the bottom.

10. A free fall sampler to obtain a sample of the bottom of a body of water comprising:

a frame;

rst and second jaws mounted on said frame for movement between an open position, and

a closed position in which said jaws oppose each other and present a sample retaining cavity;

jaw moving means carried by said frame to move said jaws from said open position to said closed position;

means to operate said jaw moving means to close said jaws when said sampler is on the bottom of the body of water;

ballast means releasably supported by said frame and released `in response to movement of said jaws toward said closed position; and

buoyant means on said frame to return the sampler to the surface of the body of water after the ballast means are released;

14 and wherein:

said first and second jaws each comprise:

irst and second spaced apart side members delining a jaw with an open front and an open back, a cutting element extending between and connected to said side members, and a flexible sample retaining web extending across said open back of said side members. 11. A sampler according to claim 10 wherein: said flexible sample retaining web of said first and second jaws is a fine mesh net. 12. A sampler according to claim 10 wherein: said side members of said irst jaw have aligned recesses adjacent the back of the jaw and the recesses face upwardly when the jaws are in said open position; said side members of said second jaw have aligned recesses adjacent the back of the jaw and the recesses face upwardly, when the jaws are in said open position; said ballast means comprises:

a irst weight disposed in said recess of said first jaw, and a second weight disposed in said recess of said second jaws; and means on said Weights engageable with the sides of said side members to prevent movement of said weights transversely of said jaws. 13. A recoverable 4free-fall sampler to obtain a sample of the bottomv of a body of water comprising:

a frame comprising:

a horizontal base, and an upright portion projecting upwardly from the base; buoyant means connected to said frame disposed above said base; a iirst jaw and a second jaw, each of said jaws including:

a front face, and a rear face; means mounting said jaws on said base for pivotal movement in a vertical plane from an open position in which portions of each of said jaws are above the bottom of said base, to a closed position in which portions of each of said jaws are below the bottom of said base and said jaws oppose each other to present a sample retaining cavity; means adjacent the rear face of said first jaw to releasably support a weight; means adjacent the rear face of said second jaw to releasably support a weight; jaw closing means carried by said frame to move said jaws from said open position to said closed positions; and means to actuate said jaw closing means. 14. A sampler according to claim 13 wherein: said front face of each of said jaws extends generally horizontally of said base when said jaws are in said open position; whereby said front faces of said jaws stabilize said sampler horizontally, against tipping, upon initial landing of said sampler on the bottom of a body of water. 15. A sampler according to claim 14 wherein: said means mounting said jaws on said base for pivotal movement comprises:

a rst horizontal pivot offset toward one side of said base, and a second horizontal pivot parallel with said first horizontal pivot and olfset toward the other side of said base. 16. A sampler according to claim 13 wherein: said upright portion of said frame comprises:

a plurality of equally spaced apart elongated members projecting upwardly from and secured to said base, said upright members forming a cage-like structure, and means connected between said upright members adjacent the upper ends thereof; and said buoyant means includes:

a plurality of buoyant spheres in said cage-like structure. 17. A sampler according to claim 16 wherein: one of said spheres comprises:

a first hemispherical shell, and a second hemispherical shell joining said first shell along a diameter of the sphere formed by the shells; and clamp means maintaining said shells together. 18. A sampler according to claim 13 wherein: said buoyant means includes: a plurality of buoyant elements; at least one of said plurality of buoyant elements having substantial mass and being movable vertically along the upright porfion of said frame; said at least one of said buoyant elements being operaatively connected to said actuating means to operate same upon impact of said sampler with the bottom of a body of water. 19. A sampler according to claim 13 which further includes:

a sealed enclosure secured to said frame and having a transparent portion; a camera in said enclosure; means mounting said camera in a position facing said transparent portion to photograph the area of the bottom from which a sample is taken; magnetically actuable camera operating means within said enclosure; and magnetic means outside said enclosure and operatively associated with said magnetically actuable camera v operating means to actuate same during a sample taking operation. 20. A sampler according to claim 13 which further includes:

a signal device mounted on said frame to indicate surfacing of the sampler after a sample taking operation;

means connected to said signal device to prevent its operation during upward and downward movement of the sampler;

means connected to said signal device to prevent its operation when the sampler is beneath the surface of the water; and

means to operate the signal device after the sampler surfaces.

21. A sampler according to claim 20 wherein:

said signal device is a flare assembly and includes:

an ignitable are projectile, and an ignitable smoke producing substance; and said means to operate said signal device includes:

means to ignite said Hare projectile and said smoke producing substance.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 418,889 1/1890 Cooper et al. 73425.2 3,078,931 2/1963 Moore 175-5 3,372,760 3/1968 Raymond 73-421 FOREIGN PATENTS 18,401 1909 Great Britain 73-425 S. CLEMENT SWISHER, Primary Examiner U.S. Cl. X.R.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3885440 *Jul 17, 1973May 27, 1975Nickel LeFree-grab device for collecting underwater samples
US3949497 *Aug 23, 1974Apr 13, 1976Trippensee CorporationReleasable latching apparatus for a benthic grab
US4019380 *Mar 8, 1976Apr 26, 1977Benthos, Inc.Underwater sampler
US4116069 *Jul 16, 1976Sep 26, 1978Georgy Mikhailovich LezgintsevDevice for taking bottom soil samples from deep water basins
US4127950 *Jun 2, 1977Dec 5, 1978Brown & Root, Inc.Bottom jetting device
US4150503 *Jan 17, 1977Apr 24, 1979Pierre LespinasseApparatus for excavation and earth removal from aquatic bottoms
US4196531 *Feb 22, 1978Apr 8, 1980Commissariat A L'energie AtomiqueIndependent unit for the collection and upward transfer of nodules which rest on an underwater bed
US4480569 *Jan 12, 1983Nov 6, 1984Veen Abraham V DContainer for ground material removed by a ground working device from the bottom of a watercourse
US4557697 *Jul 22, 1982Dec 10, 1985Institut Okeanologii Imeni P.P. ShirshovaMethod of delivering to ocean bottom and raising to surface of station for deep water researches and design of station delivered using said method
US4924698 *Jan 27, 1989May 15, 1990Echert Douglas CMethod and apparatus for remote monitoring of oceanographic conditions
US7832125 *Dec 30, 2008Nov 16, 2010Palmby Chris DPlant transplanting apparatus
Classifications
U.S. Classification73/864.31, 73/864.42, 37/187, 37/313
International ClassificationG01N1/04, E21C50/00, E21C45/00, E21B49/02
Cooperative ClassificationE21C50/00, E21B49/025
European ClassificationE21C50/00, E21B49/02A
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 29, 1981AS03Merger
Owner name: BEAR CREEK MINING COMPANY
Owner name: KENNECOTT COPPER CORPORATION
Effective date: 19810529
Jun 29, 1981ASAssignment
Owner name: KENNECOTT COPPER CORPORATION
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:BEAR CREEK MINING COMPANY;REEL/FRAME:003866/0211
Effective date: 19810529