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  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on August 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Algae needs sunlight to grow so while the rocks were from about 1000 m down today in the past they were at sea level. This highlights how sea levels have changed over time., , Bathymetry, Birdlife Australia, , , , Kleptoparasite – it steals food from other birds., , Sampling in the waters of Australia; Papua New Guinea; Solomon Islands; and New Caledonia, Sea plates, Seafloor Volcanoes, Since the start of the voyage more than 6000 individuals from 23 species of bird have been logged.   

    From CSIROscope: “Every week is science week on RV Investigator!” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    CSIRO RV Investigator. CSIRO Australia

    The secrets of the Coral Sea are not given up easily. But the scientists, research assistants and crew on RV Investigator are more than equipped to delve deep for answers.

    Those onboard are an industrious and intrepid bunch, finding ways to overcome the challenges of remote work at sea. But what have they been up to in the last few weeks since the voyage began?

    Our 94-metre floating laboratory is now drawing a picture of a chain of ancient seafloor volcanoes. The researchers will then describe the interplay of the sea plates, which are the focus of this voyage.

    Analyse this!

    A typical geoscience voyage on Investigator comes with all the trappings of using dredges to sample the seafloor. This includes snagged dredging equipment 2500 m below the surface, broken shear pins which upend the basket carrying rock samples (sending them back to the seafloor), a two-to-three metre sea swell and 25 knot (46 km/hr) winds blowing for three straight days.

    So far on this voyage, there have been 22 dredges of the seafloor from sites starting about 1000 km south-east of Cairns. By the end of this voyage, it is hoped more than 36 sites will have been surveyed and sampled in the waters of Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.

    This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Kahuroa. Wikipedia.

    Voyage Chief Scientist, Associate Professor Jo Whittaker from the University of Tasmania, said while most of the rocks being hauled to the surface were what was expected, the real value came when the ship arrives back at port.

    “There is a lot of geochemistry to be done and age dating,” Jo said.

    “We have basalt, lavas and carbonates. What we don’t have so far is continental rocks – rocks which could show that a large area of the seafloor out here was rifted from continental Australia millions of years ago.

    “Early in the voyage, we did get some cool carbonate rocks which had alternate layers of algal and coral fossils. Algae needs sunlight to grow, so while the rocks were from about 1000 m down today, in the past they were at sea level. This highlights how sea levels have changed over time.”

    A bathymetry image (seafloor image) of Frederick Reef. The scientists use this to pick rock dredge sites and better understand the seamounts deep below.

    The early bird catches the flying fish

    The science on Investigator is all around you, and around the clock. The science team, as they are known, work alternating 12-hour shifts. Everywhere you look, there are scientists, researchers and students busy with their work 24 hours a day.

    Sitting in a small enclosed deck 25 m above the waterline is a dedicated trio of bird and mammal observers from Birdlife Australia. Led by Principal Investigator and BirdLife Tasmania Convenor, Dr Eric Woehler, the team (which includes volunteer observers Jessica Bolin and Josie Lumley) scan the horizon from dawn to dusk. They’re spotting, identifying and logging marine birds and mammals. And any plastic or other jetsam (rubbish from ships) that passes within range.

    Since the start of the voyage, more than 6000 individuals from 23 species of bird have been logged. Red-footed, brown and masked boobies have been the main species. But winging their way around the ship have also been storm petrels, wedge-tailed shearwaters, and frigatebirds. With the ship heading further north toward Papua New Guinea, the eagle-eyed observers are now seeing white-tailed tropicbirds.

    Eric has more than earned his sea legs and bird skills. He has clocked up more than 400 days at sea on the Australian Antarctic Division’s research and supply vessel (RSV) Aurora Australis. He’s been spotting, identifying and logging birds across the Southern Ocean from Australia to Antarctica. Now on his tenth voyage on Investigator, when Eric steps ashore from a voyage in January next year, he would have logged more than 140 days onboard and circumnavigated Australia in the process.

    Look up! The scientists aren’t just looking deep below for the answers. Image: Huw Morgan

    Extreme birdwatching

    Eric’s enthusiasm for birds is matched by his passion for inspiring and educating anyone who comes within range on the life and times of seabirds.

    “Australia has about 130 to 140 seabird species and I would expect we will see about 40 of those on this voyage,” Eric says from behind binoculars which seem glued to his face.

    As he speaks, what seems like a black blur passes overhead.

    “The lesser frigatebird – an amazing bird,” Eric reveals.

    “They have the lowest body mass to wing-loading ratio of any bird. They hardly have to flap their wings at all.”

    “It’s a kleptoparasite – it steals food from other birds.”

    Pilot whales, dolphins, a 2.5 m hammerhead shark, and a lone whale shark have also made appearances.

    Lying about 1000 km east of Cairns, the ship is currently drawing near the very remote Mellish Reef. About 10 km long and 3 km wide, the reef has only a small area of land permanently above the highwater mark. This speck of land is the nesting ground for thousands of birds.

    Before we reach the reef, Eric hurries outside to the open deck with his camera and captures a truly remarkable image of a pair of red-footed boobies right on the tail of a flying fish spooked out of the sea by the ship.

    The booby wins.

    Red-footed Booby vs flying fish – some of the sights on RV Investigator. Image: Eric Woehler, BirdLife Tasmania

    See the full article here .


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    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

  • richardmitnick 4:46 am on May 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , How the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain got its spectacular bend, Seafloor Volcanoes,   

    From U Sidney: “How the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain got its spectacular bend” 

    U Sidney bloc

    University of Sidney

    12 May 2016
    Vivienne Reiner
    Media and PR Adviser (Science, Veterinary Science, Agriculture)
    +61 2 951 2390
    +61 438 021 390
    Room 192, Level 1 Carslaw F07

    Researchers used a world-leading supercomputer, revealing flow patterns just above the Earth’s core 100 million years old.

    Access mp4 video here .
    Rapid southward motion of the Hawaiian plume, followed by a sharp slowdown, causes the sharp bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain. Created by Rakib Hassan, University of Sydney.

    Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain. Source: University of Sydney

    The physical mechanism causing the unique, sharp bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain has been uncovered in a collaboration between the University of Sydney and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

    Led by a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney’s School of Geosciences, researchers used the Southern Hemisphere’s most highly integrated supercomputer to reveal flow patterns deep in the Earth’s mantle – just above the core – over the past 100 million years.

    U Sidney Raijin Fujitsu supercomputer
    U Sidney Raijin Fujitsu supercomputer

    The flow patterns explain how the enigmatic bend in the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain arose.

    True to the old adage – as above, so below – the Sydney-US collaboration found the shape of volcanic seamount chains (chains of mostly extinct volcanoes), including Hawaii, is intimately linked to motion near the Earth’s core.

    The findings* of PhD candidate Rakib Hassan and fellow researchers including Professor Dietmar Müller from the University’s EarthByte Group, are being published in Nature.

    Mr Hassan explained: “Until now, scientists believed the spectacular 60° bend in the Hawaiian seamount chain – not found in any other seamount chains – was related to a change in plate motion combined with a change in flow direction in the shallow mantle, the layer of thick rock between the Earth’s crust and its core.

    “These findings suggest the shape of volcanic seamount chains record motion in the deepest mantle, near the Earth’s core. The more coherent and rapid the motion deep in the mantle, the more acute its effects are on the shape of seamount chains above,” he said.

    Although solid, the mantle is in a state of continuous flow, observable only over geological timescales. Vertical columns of hot and buoyant rock rising through the mantle from near the core are known as mantle plumes. Volcanic seamount chains such as Hawaii were created from magma produced near the surface by mantle plumes. Moving tectonic plates sit above the mantle and carry newly formed seamounts away from the plume underneath – the oldest seamounts in a chain are therefore furthest away from the plume.

    “We had an intuition that, since the north Pacific experienced a prolonged phase where large, cold tectonic plates uninterruptedly sank into the mantle, the flow in the deepest mantle there would be very different compared to other regions of the Earth,” Mr Hassan said.

    One of the most contentious debates in geoscience has centred on whether piles of rock in the deep mantle – to which plumes are anchored – have remained stationary, unaffected by mantle flow over hundreds of millions of years.

    The new research shows the shapes of these piles have changed through time and their shapes can be strongly dependent on rapid, coherent flow in the deep mantle.

    Between 50-100 million years ago, the edge of the pile under the north Pacific was pushed rapidly southward, along with the base of Hawaii’s volcanic plume, causing it to tilt. The plume became vertical again once the motion of its base stopped; this dramatic start-stop motion resulted in the seamount chain’s sharp bend.

    Using Australia’s National Computational Infrastructure’s supercomputer Raijin, the team created high-resolution three-dimensional simulations of mantle evolution over the past 200 million years to understand the coupling between convection in the deep Earth and volcanism.

    Mr Hassan said the simulations were guided by surface observations – similar to meteorologists applying past measurements to predict the weather.

    “These simulations required millions of central processing unit (CPU) hours on the supercomputer over the course of the project,” he said.

    Professor Müller concluded: “Our results help resolve a major enigma of why volcanic seamount chains on the same tectonic plate can have very different shapes.

    “It is now clear that we first need to understand the dynamics of the deepest ‘Underworld’, right above the core, to unravel the history of volcanism at Earth’s surface,” said Professor Müller.

    The paper, ‘A rapid burst in hotspot motion through the interaction of tectonics and deep mantle flow’, will be published this week in Nature.

    *Science paper:
    A rapid burst in hotspot motion through the interaction of tectonics and deep mantle flow

    See the full article here .

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    U Sidney campus

    Our founding principle as Australia’s first university was that we would be a modern and progressive institution. It’s an ideal we still hold dear today.

    When Charles William Wentworth proposed the idea of Australia’s first university in 1850, he imagined “the opportunity for the child of every class to become great and useful in the destinies of this country”.

    We’ve stayed true to that original value and purpose by promoting inclusion and diversity for the past 160 years.

    It’s the reason that, as early as 1881, we admitted women on an equal footing to male students. Oxford University didn’t follow suit until 30 years later, and Jesus College at Cambridge University did not begin admitting female students until 1974.

    It’s also why, from the very start, talented students of all backgrounds were given the chance to access further education through bursaries and scholarships.

    Today we offer hundreds of scholarships to support and encourage talented students, and a range of grants and bursaries to those who need a financial helping hand.

  • richardmitnick 3:27 pm on January 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Seafloor Volcanoes   

    From NYT: “The 40,000-Mile Volcano” 

    New York Times

    The New York Times

    JAN. 12, 2016

    The Turtle Pits site on the mid-Atlantic Ridge, consisting of two sulfide mounds and a black smoker chimney. Credit Center for Marine Environmental Research/University of Bremen, Germany

    Picture a volcano. Now imagine that its main vent extends in a line. Now imagine that this line is so long that it runs for more than 40,000 miles through the dark recesses of all the world’s oceans, girding the globe like the seams of a baseball.

    Welcome to one of the planet’s most obscure but important features, known rather prosaically as the midocean ridges. Though long enough to circle the moon more than six times, they receive little notice because they lie hidden in pitch darkness. Oceanographers stumbled on their volcanic nature in 1973. Ever since, costly expeditions have slowly explored the undersea world, which typically lies more than a mile down.

    The results can make the visions of Jules Verne seem rather tame.

    The ridges feature long rift valleys and, down their middles, giant fields of gushing hot springs that shed tons of minerals into icy seawater, slowly building eerie mounds and towers that can be rich in metals like gold and silver. One knobby tower in the Pacific Ocean, nicknamed Godzilla, grew 15 stories high. Thickets of snakelike tubeworms and other bizarre creatures often blanket the hot features, as do hungry prowlers such as spider crabs.

    The riot of life coexists with springs hot enough to melt lead or the plastic windows of mini submarines. With extreme care, humans and robots have measured temperatures as high as 780 degrees.

    To date, the studies have been episodic. Ridge expeditions venture out fitfully, their schedules determined by fickle weather and budgets, not to mention the vagaries of crew and gear availability.

    Now, scientists have inaugurated a major new effort. Off the West Coast, they have wired up a highly active ridge with hundreds of sensors and cameras, as well as cables that flash the readings to shore. The ocean observatory is to operate for at least a quarter century, replacing sporadic glimpses with continuous scrutiny.

    This month, the surge of data is hitting the Internet. Hundreds of scientists around the globe will now be able to monitor one of Earth’s most restless and enigmatic features as effortlessly as reading their email.

    Temp 1
    Far left: JUAN DE FUCA RIDGE
    Dense mats of yellow and brown bacteria colonizing cooling lava after a 2015 flow on the Juan de Fuca ridge. A dark skylight vents clear, hot water from under the sea floor. A $300 million network of cables, probes and sensors will monitor the ridge for decades.
    Second from left: EAST PACIFIC RISE
    Giant tube worms live miles deep among the superheated springs of the eastern Pacific, clustering around vents called black smokers and obtaining nutrients from bacteria living in their tissues. The pale eelpout fish is one of the tube worms’ few predators.
    Second from right: MID-ATLANTIC RIDGE
    Eyeless deep-sea shrimp crowd hydrothermal vents in the deep Atlantic, gathering in the thousands per square foot. The shrimp live off of symbiotic bacteria that grow in and on their bodies and thrive in the sulfur-rich water of the midocean vents.
    Far right: WESTERN PACIFIC
    In other parts of the world, one tectonic plate slides under another, forming a trench and a parallel line of submerged volcanoes. Above, white smokers of liquid carbon dioxide bubble from the Champagne vents on the Northwest Eifuku volcano.

    Sources and images: Univ. of Washington; National Science Foundation; Ocean Observatories Initiative; Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility; NOAA; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; U.S. Geological Survey; InterRidge By Jonathan Corum

    “We’re seeing it come alive,” said Maya Tolstoy, a marine geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. She recently got a preview that included an eruption. “It’s exciting,” she added. “We’re just starting to understand what’s going on.”

    John R. Delaney, an oceanographer at the University of Washington who conceived of the observatory decades ago, said it would help scientists better grasp not only the volcanic ridges but the surrounding waters, which cover most of the planet.

    “Suddenly, a technological door has opened on studying the ocean from within,” he said in an interview. The new perspective, he added, “is the only way we’re ever going to understand its true complexity — the hundreds of processes.”

    A main question is to what extent the volcanism changes over time. The old idea was that the eruptions of oozing lava and related activity occurred at fairly steady rates. Now, studies hint at the existence of outbursts large enough to influence not only the character of the global sea but the planet’s temperature.

    Experts believe the activity may carry major repercussions because the oceanic ridges account for some 70 percent of the planet’s volcanic eruptions. By definition, that makes them enormous sources of heat and exotic minerals as well as such everyday gases as carbon dioxide, which all volcanoes emit.

    “It’s a whole new perspective on how the Earth works,” said Daniel J. Fornari, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Mass. “We’ve got our eyes and ears on a part of the seafloor that’s really dynamic.”

    The source of all of this activity is the slow churning of Earth’s molten interior, which continually rearranges the planet’s two dozen or so large crustal plates. The volcanic ridges mark the places where oceanic slabs slowly pull apart, giving molten rock and gases an escape route.

    Temp 2
    The key principle of plate tectonics is that the lithosphere exists as separate and distinct tectonic plates, which float on the fluid-like (visco-elastic solid) asthenosphere. The relative fluidity of the asthenosphere allows the tectonic plates to undergo motion in different directions. This map shows 15 of the largest plates. Note that the Indo-Australian Plate may be breaking apart into the Indian and Australian plates, which are shown separately on this map.
    Date February 1996

    The first volcanic hints came to light in 1973 when mini submarines dived on the mid-Atlantic Ridge. It runs for nearly 10,000 miles, making it the planet’s longest mountain chain. The French-American team expected to see the rocky folds and fissures typical of regions on land where plates pull apart, known as divergent boundaries. Instead, they found beds of hardened lava.

    The excitement rose in 1977 when an American submersible off the Galápagos Islands dived to a deep ridge. Over a hydrophone, from the seabed, a puzzled scientist told the mother ship that the volcanic site bore abundant life — contrary to the usual desertlike portrayals of the deep sea.

    The Nature Tower, part of Lost City on the mid-Atlantic Ridge. Credit University of Washington/University of Rhode Island/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Ocean Exploration Trust

    “There’s all these animals down here,” the expert reported. The unexpected fauna included red shrimp, brown mussels, pink fish with undulating tails, and dense stands of tubeworms with bright red plumes.

    In the 1980s, scientists found that the hot vents could discharge giant plumes of warm, buoyant water. Zooplankton — clouds of tiny sea creatures — turned out to flourish in the mineral-rich plumes. The tracking of whale calls suggested that the giant mammals fed on the dense swarms.

    Last year, a more basic discovery came to light. A team of 11 scientists reported that the blistering hot springs act as global recycling centers that turn complex carbon from ages of deceased oceanic life into much simpler chemicals that can form new organisms.

    “They replace it with material that’s biologically reactive,” said Jeffrey A. Hawkes, a marine chemist at the University of Oldenburg in Germany, who led the research. “They’re the lifeblood of the deep sea.”

    Starting in the 1990s, oceanographers received a glimpse of what continual monitoring had to offer when the Navy shared its long-secret network of undersea microphones, used during the Cold War to track enemy submarines. Suddenly, marine scientists could hear the volcanic eruptions and study their aftermath.

    Recently, Dr. Tolstoy of Columbia University drew on such acoustic data from nine seabed eruptions over nearly two decades to paint a group portrait full of surprises. It turned out that all of those eruptions, from the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, took place from January to June.

    The cause, she proposed, is Earth’s slightly elliptical orbit around the sun. That changes the strength of the sun’s gravitational pull on Earth during the year and, as a result, the magnitude of the tides that squeeze the planet. She said the eruptions coincided with the annual letup of the squeeze. More boldly, Dr. Tolstoy suggested that such mechanisms might help explain how the planet’s regular ice ages end so abruptly — long a mystery.

    Ocean levels fall sharply in such bitterly cold periods as water is tied up in massive continental ice sheets. In a paper, she proposed that the reduced pressure on the ridges might let them erupt far more frequently. As a result, more carbon dioxide would spew into the ocean and, eventually, into the atmosphere, trapping more heat and warming the planet.

    In short, according to this hypothesis, the ice sheets would eventually grow large enough to initiate their own destruction, refilling the oceans. It was a radical idea that has stirred debate.

    Temp 1
    A triangular array that was to be deployed to measure the temperature of a venting hot spring below the surface. Credit University of Washington/National Science Foundation-Ocean Observatories Initiative/Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility

    In an interview, Dr. Tolstoy said mounting evidence from the seabed suggested that the volcanic ridges were “exquisitely sensitive” to slight changes in stress, making them open to a variety of celestial influences. Scientists say such factors might one day enhance their understanding of why Earth’s climate has varied so markedly over the ages, improving their computer models and forecasts.

    The undersea observatory, by scrutinizing hundreds of ridge features, promises to help scientists address such riddles.

    It sits atop the Juan de Fuca Ridge. The volcanic spreading center — more than 300 miles long — lies in a slanted line off the West Coast, from British Columbia to Oregon. The observatory is divided into two parts. Canada operates the northern one and the United States the southern one, part of a larger program known as the Ocean Observatories Initiative.

    All told, it cost roughly $500 million — far less than the next generation of optical telescopes under construction around the globe. The National Science Foundation, the federal government’s big funder of basic science, paid for the American part.

    Together, the two sites feature more than 1,000 miles of cables, dozens of junction boxes and hundreds of sensors.

    Instruments on the seabed include tilt meters, cameras, seismometers, temperature gauges, hydrophones, chemical probes, pressure sensors and fluid samplers. Also, mobile platforms crawl up and down long moorings to take readings higher in the water column. The observatory’s main cables run ashore at Port Alberni, on Vancouver Island, and Pacific City, Ore.

    “We have the most advanced cabled observatory on any volcano in the world’s oceans,” said Deborah S. Kelley, a scientist at the University of Washington who directs the American segment. “There’ll be lots of discoveries.”

    Dr. Kelley joined Dr. Fornari of Woods Hole and three other marine scientists to compile a photographic atlas that summarizes what scientists have learned so far about the hidden world.

    “Discovering the Deep,” published in May by Cambridge University Press, is filled with hundreds of images of alien creatures as well as volcanic towers belching clouds of superheated water rich in metals and minerals. It profiles more than a dozen hot spots around the globe, including those on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, home to Godzilla. Oceanographers, the book says, have discovered vast swarms of unusually sturdy microbes thriving in dark volcanic waters as hot as 250 degrees — hotter than most boiling water on land.

    Looking to the future, the authors describe the observatory and its importance for seeing the ocean from within. The investigations, they conclude, “are still in their infancy.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 10:04 am on November 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Seafloor Volcanoes, Tamu Massif   

    From Nature: “The world’s biggest volcano is a magnetic mix-up” 

    Nature Mag

    19 November 2015
    Alexandra Witze

    Tamu Massif rises four kilometers from the seafloor. A 3D image shows various peaks that have formed over 145 million years. Scripps Oceanographic Institute/John Greene

    Earth’s biggest volcano, its peak nearly two kilometers beneath the Pacific Ocean waves, is beginning to reveal its secrets.

    New magnetic data suggest that the gigantic underwater mountain known as Tamu Massif, 1,600 kilometers east of Japan, is a kind of volcanic hybrid—a mash-up of long chains of volcanoes and one enormous eruption. “We’re looking at something that’s in between a mid-ocean ridge and a simple conical volcano,” says William Sager, a marine geophysicist at the University of Houston. Mid-ocean ridges are where fresh lava wells up from deep inside Earth to create newborn ocean crust; they run for thousands of kilometers along the centers of most ocean basins.

    Sager and his colleagues collected the new data on a five-week-long cruise that ended on November 10 onboard the R/V Falkor, a research vessel run by the Schmidt Ocean Institute of Palo Alto, Calif. The trip was the latest attempt to unravel the mysteries of this enormous volcano, and showed that its birth was more complex than scientists had suspected.

    Covering an area roughly the size of New Mexico, Tamu Massif towers more than four kilometers above the seafloor. “This volcano is a beast,” says Jörg Geldmacher, a marine geophysicist at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany.

    Tamu Massif’s size may trace back to the unusual circumstances of its origin. Around 145 million years ago lava began pouring out on the seafloor where three mid-ocean ridges came together in a geologic “triple junction.” Each ridge spewed out lava that cooled and preserved a record of the Earth’s magnetism at the time. Because the planet’s magnetic field has reversed direction many times over millions of years, the lava over time recorded stripes of alternating magnetic polarity on either side of the ridge where it was born.


    Earlier research cruises had mapped hints of these magnetic stripes, by towing magnetic recording instruments behind ships as they sailed back and forth. But the information was spotty. Sager and Masao Nakanishi, a geophysicist at Chiba University in Japan, organized the Falkor cruise to gather the best magnetic data to date. They sailed up and back over Tamu Massif in an enormous grid covering nearly a million square kilometers.

    Some 1.7 million magnetic measurements later, the scientists confirmed what they had only suspected earlier: Tamu Massif seems to have coherent magnetic stripes on either side of it, like those seen at seafloor spreading ridges. That suggests at least part of Tamu Massif was born from fresh lava welling up in orderly stripes at the geological triple junction.

    The main mountain itself is more of a shapeless magnetic blob, however. That blobbiness suggests something else is also going on—perhaps a plume of hot rock rising from deep within Earth up through the mantle, fueling an eruption on the surface like a welder’s torch blasting upward. If so, then Tamu Massif is one of the few places on the planet where a mantle plume may have interacted with a triple junction, Geldmacher says.

    The question is how much lava came from one as opposed to the other. “If you looked at a mid-ocean ridge and sliced it open, you’d find magma underneath,” Sager says. “How do you get a separate volcanic plumbing system at the same spot?”

    The researchers still need to work through the Falkor data, but the new information should help unravel the mystery of the volcano’s birth, Nakanishi says. More broadly, Tamu Massif could help scientists better understand the volcanic phenomena that create the three fifths of Earth’s crust that lies beneath the oceans.

    During the cruise, the Falkor also mapped Tamu Massif in unprecedented three-dimensional detail. Among other things it revealed a newfound small mountain off the west end. And steep cliffs at the base of Tamu Massif may represent places where it is subsiding into the seafloor or where underwater landslides occurred.

    See the full article here .

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    Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

  • richardmitnick 9:04 am on August 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Seafloor Volcanoes,   

    From grist via U Washington: “How do you study an underwater volcano? Build an underwater laboratory” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington


    18 Aug 2015
    Suzanne Jacobs

    It was the early ’90s, and John Delaney was frustrated. For the past decade, he’d been studying a massive volcano about 300 miles due west of the Oregon-Washington border. It was right on the edge of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, stood more than a thousand meters tall, and was teeming with life adapted to its extreme temperatures and acidity. The problem? It was at the bottom of the ocean.

    Juan de Fuca Plate
    Cutaway of the Juan de Fuca Plate. USGS image
    A map of the Juan de Fuca Plate

    On days when Delaney got to visit the volcano, known as Axial Seamount, he would get in a research submarine around 8 a.m., launch at 8:30, get to the seafloor by 10-ish, and then wander around — sometimes aimlessly in the early days of low-tech navigation — before he had to head back up to the surface around 3 or 3:30.

    Exaggerated swath bathymetry of Axial Seamount and the surrounding area.

    “It was pushing the envelope on what we could do, pushing the envelope on what we knew, but we would get to the end of the dive and you would have to go, and you knew you hadn’t observed enough, sampled enough, touched enough,” Delaney says.

    One day, Delaney was sitting in a bar in San Francisco, complaining about the inadequacy of these short trips, when a friend told him about underwater fiber optic cables. Just like electric cables, fiber optic cables allow for two-way communication between devices. Unlike electric cables, they use light, rather than electrons, which makes them better for fast, long-distance communication. Bell Labs was developing the technology at the time, and AT&T had already laid the first cable down between the U.S. and Europe in 1988.

    That was it, Delaney thought. If he could just wire up the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, he could create a kind of underwater laboratory teeming with robots and sensors. The setup could provide the constant stream of information that he so desperately wanted — pressure data, seismic readings, acidity levels, video streams, sound recordings. Altogether, he estimated it would cost about $75 million.

    Plenty of people laughed at the idea at first, Delaney recalls; some even walked out of the room when he proposed it in lectures. But today, more than two decades, $150 million, and 550 miles of cable later, Delaney has his underwater laboratory.

    On a sunny morning in July, Delaney sits in his office on the edge of Lake Union in Seattle. He’s wearing blue jeans and a black turtleneck under a tan blazer, and he speaks in a calm, deep voice. The chatter of hungry seagulls and a cool breeze flow in through an open window.

    At 73, Delaney has been a professor of oceanography at the University of Washington for more than 30 years. He’s been on PBS, given a TED talk, and lectured all over the world. He’s been the head scientist on more than 45 research cruises and has published nearly 100 scientific papers. But on this morning, reclining in his chair and shootin’ the breeze like he doesn’t have a million things on his plate, he seems just as happy to talk about his love of poetry and the wonders of the sea as he is about underwater technology.


    “I would do almost anything that it would take to bring the ocean to the public,” he says. “In the final years of my life, that’s what I’d like to do.”

    Delaney was born in Hawaii the day after the bombs hit Pearl Harbor. His dad was in the military, so the family moved around a lot — San Francisco, Virginia, Illinois, and finally, North Carolina. “I used to have a southern accent,” he says, dropping his voice momentarily into a deep drawl, “but I left that behind when I left North Carolina. My mama would not recognize my voice.”

    In graduate school, Delaney studied mining geology — basically, how to measure the distribution of copper, lead, zinc, and other metals in the earth. Late in his student days, he had the opportunity to go the Galapagos Islands with his advisor to study the gases coming out of five of the island’s six western volcanoes. He used half of his and his wife’s life savings to join the first of two three-month expeditions (the second, fortunately for his bank account, was paid for).

    “It was such a personal, scientific, psychological, and emotional experience to be in the Galapagos,” he says. “I was 28 years old. I was very full of piss and vinegar, very confident in myself.”

    The trip was a turning point for Delaney. After finishing his degree, he moved to the University of Washington to study submarine volcanic glass, and in 1980, took his first trip down to Axial in a research submarine. That was when he fell in love with the ocean. One of his favorite quotes, he says, is by the writer Dave Barry:

    “When you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.”

    Fast forward to 2011, and Delaney and his collaborators are laying down the first bit of fiber optic cable on the eastern side of the Juan de Fuca plate. They finished the whole setup just last year and now have more than one hundred measuring devices set up all over the circus tent — er, ocean. Here’s a sampling:

    Among the devices spread around Axial are instruments that measure the deflation/inflation of the sea floor (a), seismic activity (b), temperature and resistivity (c), and water flow (e). There’s also a video camera (d) and fluid sampler (f). a) OOI-NSF/UW/CSSF. b) OOI-NSF/UW/CSSF. c) OOI-NSF/UW/CSSF. d-f) IOcean Networks Canada and CSSF

    The laboratory already proved its worth this past April, when Axial experienced a major eruption. Even big eruptions normally go unnoticed, Delaney says, because they happen more than a mile under water. But with the cable, scientists knew not only that an eruption was happening, but also that the floor of the caldera — the part of a volcano that sinks after the magma chamber empties — fell about 2.4 meters in fewer than 18 hours and that the eruption caused 8,000 small earthquakes in just one day.

    Delaney says that in the future, the team should have a research vessel at the ready in case of an eruption. That way, he says, they can go out within a week or two after the event to take samples of microbial life, measure changes in venting behavior, etc. Eventually, he says, they’d like to have an autonomous vehicle roaming around Axial all the time so that when the next eruption happens, it can immediately start snapping pictures and taking samples.

    Sometime within the next year, all the data streaming in from the laboratory should be freely available online, as part of the NSF’s Ocean Observatories Initiative. This kind of sustained, long-term monitoring of a large ocean environment is unprecedented, Delaney says (although Canada did build a similar underwater observatory off the coast of Vancouver Island in tandem with the Axial project), and could shed light not only on Axial, but also on, for example, ocean acidification, the behavior of ocean currents, and the mysterious lifeforms lurking in the depths.

    As is, the cable and its array of sensors isn’t quite as comprehensive as Delaney had originally envisioned – so he and others are already planning an expansion. The new layout would cover the entirety of what’s known as the subduction zone — the area along the Washington and Oregon shores where the Juan de Fuca plate goes under the North American plate. (You may have heard of it recently.)

    He’s currently trying to get funding for the new addition, which would be substantially larger than the existing set-up around Axial and, by his estimate, cost about half a billion dollars. But if designed properly, it could also act as an early warning system for the inevitable earthquake looming over the Pacific Northwest. Japan began building a similar early warning system in 2013 after a devastating earthquake and tsunami killed more than 15,000 people in 2011.

    Pulling up a mockup of the proposed expansion, Delaney looks up at the clock apologetically. He has to meet a colleague for lunch, although he seems like he could chat for hours if he had the time. Not about anything in particular — Axial, the cable, his favorite writers, the backstory behind that giant hydrothermal vent pictured on his wall, why he likes to open lectures with a joke, whether or not that New Yorker article was over-the-top. And this reporter, nestled into the la-z-boy Delaney has set up next to his desk, could certainly sit and listen.

    White smokers emitting liquid carbon dioxide at the Champagne vent, Northwest Eifuku volcano, Marianas Trench Marine National Monumen

    But his undivided attention and thoughtful conversation are in spite of the million things that he does, in fact, have on his plate: a son flying in from Haiti later that day, more visitors arriving later that week, a camera crew showing up for an interview at some point, that party happening on the research ship in a couple weeks, all the usual obligations of a university professor and scientist.

    Last year, Delaney gave a series of public lectures titled “The Global Ocean & Human Culture: Past, Present & Future” — just one way he’s been trying to “bring the ocean to the public.” His fascination with the sea has gone far beyond Axial since he took that first trip in a submarine 35 years ago. For him, the sea is mysterious and frightening and deeply poetic, which is why, on his personal website, he has a page just for poetry. Here’s one from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

    The sea awoke at midnight from its sleep,
    And round the pebbly beaches far and wide
    I heard the first wave of the rising tide
    Rush onward with uninterrupted sweep;
    A voice out of the silence of the deep,
    A sound mysteriously multiplied
    As of a cataract from the mountain’s side,
    Or roar of winds upon a wooded steep.
    So comes to us at times, from the unknown
    And inaccessible solitudes of being,
    The rushing of the sea-tides of the soul;
    And inspirations, that we deem our own,
    Are some divine foreshadowing and foreseeing
    Of things beyond our reason or control.

    See the full article here.

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    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

  • richardmitnick 8:05 am on August 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Seafloor Volcanoes,   

    From Washington: “UW scientists explore recently erupted deep-sea volcano (with video)” 

    U Washington

    University of Washington

    August 7, 2015
    Hannah Hickey

    When University of Washington oceanographers visited the deep-ocean Axial Volcano in late July, parts of the seafloor were still warm.

    The team knew to expect changes in the mile-deep volcano 300 miles off the Oregon coast. This spring, seafloor seismometers connected to shore by a new Internet cable showed that Axial Volcano, a 3,600-foot-tall underwater volcano, started shaking April 24 and shook continuously for several days.

    The recent visit, part of a larger cruise, was scientists’ first chance to see the site and explore what happened.

    “It was a very large eruption,” said Deborah Kelley, a UW professor of oceanography who led the expedition on the UW’s Thomas G. Thompson research vessel. “The eruption itself was at least 7 kilometers long. We were just looking at one small lobe of this section of new ocean crust.”

    The team got to explore the scene through a deep-sea cabled robot hosting cameras and sensors, ROPOS, that is lowered from the ship. ROPOS crawled up a 295-foot-thick, 2,100-foot-wide section of newly formed basalt.


    Download available here.

    During a seven-hour dive on July 28, the robotic vehicle followed a 30-degree slope up to the top of the flow. There, it was engulfed in cloudy waters and a blizzard of white material — the so-called snowblowers of organic matter created by microbes that bloom and thrive after volcanic eruptions.

    “When we got up there, it was really like driving through a snowstorm,” Kelley said.

    She believes bacteria that thrive off methane and sulfur were growing inside warm fluid-filled pockets and channels in the flowing lava, where the environment is rich in chemicals and gases that the microbes use for energy. What look like snowflakes actually came from white microbial mats most common where water was seeping from the lava at temperatures as warm as 64 F (18 C), compared to the near-freezing water in the surrounding deep sea.

    White, filamentous bacteria thrive in the warm fluids seeping from pockets in the 3-month-old lava flow. White “snowblowers” drift through the water. Orange bacterial mats cover vast areas of the still cooling lava flow.NSF-OOI/UW/ROPOS

    Life had also begun growing on the surface of the new rock. Thick, orange mats of bacteria covered vast sections of the cooling lava, surrounding the white microbes.

    “We really don’t know when life starts growing on the rocks, but this is just three months old and already in some places the mats are very thick, completely masking the surface of the rock below,” Kelley said.

    She studies seafloor volcanoes and the mysterious life forms that inhabit these unique environments, which some scientists think may have hosted the first life on Earth.

    Slabs of lava carried up to the research vessel by the robotic vehicle showed that the rock was covered with a layer of glass up to three-quarters of an inch thick, which forms when the lava cools very quickly in frigid seawater.

    A student on the cruise from Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Washington, will study microbes on one of the samples to better understand how life colonizes a fresh lava flow. Scientists at the UW and other institutions will further analyze the samples and data to understand relationships between underwater eruptions and other environmental shifts.

    “This is the third time at this volcano that we’ve seen vast expanses of microbes colonizing the cooling lava flows within a couple months of an eruption,” Kelley said, “so that relationship is probably prevalent on many underwater volcanoes.”

    The eruption occurred inside the black rectangle, northwest of the main caldera (red) of Axial Volcano. The volcano rises about a half-mile from the seafloor, in ocean water about a mile deep.NSF-OOI/UW/ROPOS

    The UW team recovered samples and collected observations that will complement the data streaming from more than 20 sensors that are continuously recording conditions across the caldera.

    The April eruption was first detected by instruments about 10 to 25 miles south of the flow, at cabled study sites at the summit and base of the volcano. Sensors recorded the vibrations, seafloor movement and sounds during the event. UW-installed cabled sensors recorded about 8,000 small earthquakes during that time, and a seafloor drop of up to about 8 feet at the summit of the volcano, southwest of the flow. The first seafloor-mapping data and video from the research cruise confirm that the volcano erupted a significant volume of lava during the event: the third eruption since 1988.

    The recent visit was part of a National Science Foundation cruise, from July 4 to August 7, to conduct the first annual maintenance of this cabled deep-sea observatory off the Pacific Northwest coast, a major component of the NSF Ocean Observatories Initiative.

    Another NSF-sponsored cruise, led by Bill Chadwick of Oregon State University, will leave Aug. 14 and will focus on exploring the site of the eruption.

    “We really just got a glimmer of what it was like,” Kelley said. “There are a lot of places to explore to figure out what was happening during this impressive eruption.”

    See the full article here.

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    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.

    So what defines us — the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

  • richardmitnick 2:16 pm on July 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Seafloor Volcanoes,   

    From WIRED: “There’s a Volcano Called Kick ‘Em Jenny, and It’s Angry” 

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    Erik Klemetti

    A bathymetric map of the seafloor off northern Grenada showing the volcanic cluster surrounding Kick’ Em Jenny. NOAA and Seismic Research Institute, 2003 (published in GVN Bulletin).

    A submarine volcano near the coast of Grenada in the West Indies (Less Antilles) looks like it might be headed towards a new eruption. A new swarm of earthquakes has begun in the area of Kick ‘Em Jenny (one of the best volcano names on Earth) and locals have noticed more bubbles in the ocean above the volcano (which reaches within ~180 meters of the surface). The intensity of this degassing and earthquake swarm is enough to have the volcano moved to “Orange” alert status by Seismic Research Center at the University of the West Indies, meaning they expect an eruption soon. A 5 kilometer (3 mile) exclusion zone has also been set up for boat traffic around the volcano.

    Kick ‘Em Jenny doesn’t pose a threat to Grenada itself enough though its only 8 kilometers from the island. The biggest hazard is to boats that frequent the area as the release of volcanic gases and debris into the water could heat up the water and make it tumultuous. In 1939, the volcano did also produce an eruption plume that breached the surface of the ocean, so there is a small chance that any new eruption could do the same. However, eruptions since 1939, including the most recent in 2001, have been minor and had no surface expression — think of something like the 2010 eruptions at El Hierro in the Canary Islands.

    Kick ‘Em Jenny doesn’t pose a threat to Grenada itself enough though its only 8 kilometers from the island. The biggest hazard is to boats that frequent the area as the release of volcanic gases and debris into the water could heat up the water and make it tumultuous. In 1939, the volcano did also produce an eruption plume that breached the surface of the ocean, so there is a small chance that any new eruption could do the same. However, eruptions since 1939, including the most recent in 2001, have been minor and had no surface expression — think of something like the 2010 eruptions at El Hierro in the Canary Islands.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 10:40 am on July 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From livescience: “Chain of Underwater Volcanoes Discovered During Lobster Hunt” 


    July 13, 2015
    Laura Geggel

    During a mission to find larval lobsters, marine researchers unexpectedly found a cluster of extinct, 50-million-year-old volcanoes on the ocean floor near eastern Australia. Credit: Marine National Facility

    The four volcanoes are located about 155 miles (250 kilometers) off the coast of Sydney, the researchers found during the mission, which lasted from June 3 to 18. The scientists immediately recognized them as calderas, a cauldronlike structure that forms after a volcano erupts and collapses into itself, creating a crater. The largest extinct volcano measures about 1 mile (1.5 km) across and towers about 0.4 miles (700 meters) above the seafloor, the researchers said.

    The cluster is a large one, measuring about 12 miles (20 km) long and 4 miles (6 km) wide, they added.

    The discovery will help geoscientists learn more about the geological forces that shaped the region, said Richard Arculus, a professor of marine geology at the Australian National University and an expert on volcanoes.

    “They tell us part of the story of how New Zealand and Australia separated around 40 [million to] 80 million years ago, and they’ll now help scientists target future exploration of the seafloor to unlock the secrets of the Earth’s crust,” Arculus said in a statement.

    The volcano cluster, which sits about 3 miles (4.9 km) underwater, went unnoticed until now because researchers didn’t have adequate tools to measure and map the deep seafloor, Arculus said.

    The sonar on the old research vessel run by Marine National Facility (MNF), a research group funded by the Australian government, only had the ability to map the seafloor to about 1.9 miles (3 km) underwater, he said. A new 308-foot-long (94 m) vessel, named the Investigator, has a greater scope.

    “On board the new MNF vessel, Investigator, we have sonar that can map the seafloor to any depth, so all of Australia’s vast ocean territory is now within reach, and that is enormously exciting,” Arculus said.

    During the Investigator’s latest mission, researchers were looking for the nursery grounds of lobster larvae while simultaneously carrying out a routine mapping of the seafloor.

    “The voyage was enormously successful,” Iain Suthers, a professor of marine biology at the University of New South Wales, said in the statement. “Not only did we discover a cluster of volcanoes on Sydney’s doorstep, we were amazed to find that an eddy off Sydney was a hotspot for lobster larvae at a time of the year when we were not expecting them.”

    During the mission, the Investigator’s crew sent data to a team at the University of New South Wales, who analyzed the information and sent back their results, which included satellite imagery. This allowed the marine crew to chase eddies created by the marine creatures they were tracking.

    “This is the first time we’ve been able to respond directly to the changing dynamics of the ocean and, for a biological oceanographer like me, it doesn’t get more thrilling,” Suthers said.

    The research team found juvenile fish popular among fishermen, such as bream and tailor, about 93 miles (150 km) offshore.

    “We had thought that once they were swept out to sea, that was [the] end of them,” Suthers said. “But, in fact, these eddies are nursery grounds along the east coast of Australia.”

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 8:01 am on June 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Discovery: “Undersea Volcano Erupts a Mile Below the Surface” 

    Discovery News
    Discovery News

    Jun 4, 2015
    Patrick J. Kiger

    The volcanic eruption at Axial Seamount on April 24, 2015. Oregon State University

    It’s sort of a variation on the old “If a tree falls in a forest…” quandary. 80 percent of volcanic eruptions on Earth probably go unnoticed by people, because they take place in the planet’s oceans, often at depths of thousands of feet. There’s nobody down there to flee in terror or to write an eloquent account of nature’s fury, as Pliny the Younger did when Vesuvius erupted back in 79 AD.

    Or rather, undersea eruptions used to go unnoticed. University of Washington researchers have installed an array of cutting-edge monitoring instruments in the vicinity of the Axial Seamount, an underwater volcanic mountain that’s about 300 miles off the coast of the Pacific and a mile beneath the ocean surface. In late April, that gadgetry enabled them to anticipate and then observe a eruption in real time, and to collect a massive amount of data on the event.

    “It was an astonishing experience to see the changes taking place 300 miles away with no one anywhere nearby, and the data flowed back to land at the speed of light through the fiber-optic cable connected to Pacific City — and from there, to here on campus by the Internet, in milliseconds,” noted UW oceanography professor John Delaney in a press release.

    The researchers, who are working in a larger effort sponsored by the National Science Foundation, got their first inkling that Axial was about to blow just before midnight on April 23, when eight seismometers installed at the site transmitted warnings that seismic activity in that area was going off the charts. The rate of tremors increased dramatically over the next 12 hours, to a rate of thousands per day.

    Meanwhile, the center of Axial’s volcanic crater dropped by about 6 feet.

    “The only way that could have happened was to have the magma move from beneath the caldera (the collapse of land following an eruption) to some other location,” Delaney said, “which the earthquakes indicate is right along the edge of the caldera on the east side.”

    Axial Seamount’s latest eruption actually was predicted in advance by Oregon State University researcher Bill Chadwick and his colleague Scott Nooner at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. It previously erupted in 1998 and 2011, when scientists captured a picture of a bizarre layer of undersea glass formed when molten lava from the volcano encountered the near-freezing seawater.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 7:27 am on May 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Seafloor Volcanoes   

    From Rutgers: “Rutgers Deep Sea IMAX Film Will Plunge into New Countries” 

    Rutgers University
    Rutgers University

    May 7, 2015
    Rick Remington

    Volcanoes of the Deep Sea is heading to the Keong Emas IMAX Theatre in Jakarta, Indonesia, for a run of at least a year starting June 15.

    After eight years of success IMAX film Volcanoes of the Deep will be shown in Indonesia

    When Volcanoes of the Deep Sea, an IMAX film co-produced by Rutgers, debuted in 2003, the film’s science director, Richard A. Lutz, boldly predicted the film would draw 20 to 30 million viewers.

    Twelve years later, Volcanoes of the Deep Sea has attracted over 200 million viewers and is still going strong. The next stop is Indonesia with an estimated additional one million viewers over the next few years at the largest-capacity IMAX theatre in the world. And every time the film is presented, viewers gaze during the opening credits upon a huge red logo of Rutgers that fills the screen for seven seconds.

    “What wonderful international exposure for the path-finding, deep-sea research in which Rutgers has been involved over the past three decades,” Lutz says.

    The giant-screen film depicts the bizarre world of deep-sea volcanoes found miles under the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, a world brought to life through the work of Lutz, a professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, and his former colleague, Peter Rona, a marine sciences professor who passed away in 2014.

    Lutz and Rona were able to finance 22 dives over a period of three years in making the film through funding they secured from the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, private institutions and Rutgers. What they present is a “hissing, gushing world of sulfurous, watery smoke, brutal temperature extremes, crushing pressures and species of strange animals that defy conventional wisdom,” according to the University’s 2003 press release trumpeting the launch of the production.

    The film’s credits include James Cameron of Titanic fame, who served as executive producer; narrator Ed Harris, who starred in Apollo 13; and director Stephen Low, a veteran of IMAX productions. It is during the opening credits that the large, red Rutgers logo takes its bow on screen.

    Volcanoes of the Deep Sea is heading to the Keong Emas IMAX Theatre in Jakarta, Indonesia, for a run of at least a year starting June 15.

    “We brought Hollywood lighting and camera technology to the deep-sea floor to clearly illuminate for the first time the spectacular hot springs and their strange ecosystems for the public to see, from school children to the delegates to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Rona said of the movie.

    The deep-sea world explored in the film has no sunlight to support life. Water temperatures vary wildly from freezing to 750 degrees F. Gases emitted from the underwater volcanoes would kill land-dwelling creatures and the water pressure would instantly flatten a human. Yet previously unknown animal communities thrive on food chains supported by volcanic heat and chemicals emanating from deep beneath the ocean floor.

    See the full article here.

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    Founded in 1766, Rutgers teaches across the full educational spectrum: preschool to precollege; undergraduate to graduate; postdoctoral fellowships to residencies; and continuing education for professional and personal advancement.

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