Science AMA Series: We are the OASIS Science Team exploring submarine volcanoes in the eastern, equatorial Pacifc. We are using deep sea technology to investigate magma processes and the formation of submarine volcanoes. We will answer your questions LIVE from onboard the R/V Atlantis. AUA!

Abstract

[removed]

Did you find any uncharted ship wreaks in the process, or discover something you didn't intend to discover?

staresinamerican

So far no uncharted ship wrecks, but we HAVE found a lot of manganese nodules. We have also found that the age of the lavas is not entirely was we expected, and they are very vesicular lavas. We have our work cut out for us in the next two weeks!

-Bridgit, Mike, Trish


Question for Liam Gallagher anybody in the team: how do you deal with animals and creatures you find during your explorations? Do you just ignore them almost completely or if you find something interesting you'd pass a note onto a scientist from a different field?

And/or does that work the other way around? Do marine biologists call you up to say "hey, you'll never believe what we found at X place..."

larry_b2

We note any animals that we see while exploring, but we generally leave them alone. We have collected some manganese covered corals and sponges because we thought they were rocks! We certainly share information across fields, passing off to biologists the kinds of life we see in this region. Likewise, biologists will give us information about what they see on their cruises.


What's are the chances we will see a submersible craft in the waters of Europa at some point in the near future? What have we learnt from Earths waters that might help us get there?

Bonus question: What scares you the most about the ocean?

Thank you!

Audiophile_

[Jack and Steve]

It would be pretty complicated to get a craft there, let alone through the ice. From a geology perspective the most interesting thing there is the tectonics, and we already have a decent enough grasp in that area that other planetary targets would be more interesting. The chance of life, however, will probably warrant more investigation.


Hello! Firstly, thanks for doing this AMA, we all appreciate it!

I see there are a lot of fascinating science questions here already, but I've always been curious about what daily life is like aboard a research vessel like yours. How are the bunks? What's food like in the galley? Do you have decent access to entertainment? How much time off do you have a day, anyway?

Basically, I'm always interested to see a tiny glimpse of a different life. I hope you don't mind indulging my curiosity!

Thanks again.

KDY_ISD

[Matt] Time passes very quickly because there is a lot of work to do. The bunks are smaller than my bed at home, but comfortable. The food is OUTSTANDING. I stand two-4 hour watches per day, but keep pretty busy. Time off depends on how much work needs to be done.

[Trish] I sleep when I can, but I have pretty much felt like I am running a sprint since the moment I stepped on the boat. On the upside, there is never a dull moment. On the downside, no I have not had any down time to watch a movie for example. HOWEVER, I do make a point of watching sunrises and sunsets, one of the best parts about being at sea. :)


+How packed is your schedule? Can you guys change course at all to explore something you deem appropriate or is every second already scheduled?

+By definition you cant fully predict what you might find that is completely novel but what are some wild speculations or hopes that ya'll have in the back of your minds?

+I know that the youtube channel is a thing (and I hope my youtube red subscription kicks a bit back to you guys) but is there any talk of doing a live camera feed or semi-raw footage from dives alla NautilusLive? I just found out about that group and after binging multiple nights on their youtube channel, I am now literally counting the days until I can take part in the live chat during their next mission.

llamagoelz

-Our schedule is pretty packed and very structured. We work 4 hours on, and 8 hours off. However, most of us are working even during out 8 hours off. We can and do change course based on what we have discovered so far.

-Everyone hopes that we will see active hydrothermal venting on the off-axis volcanos that we are exploring. Venting has never been observed this far off-axis, and so that would be a very novel discovery. However, no sign of that so far.

-Unfortunately, we don't yet have the technology and bandwidth to make the Nautilus style feeds. Hopefully someday we will get the funding to make this happen!

-Bridgit, Charelle, Emma, Dan


I'm nearly reaching the end of high school. What should I study in college if I want to do all the cool stuff that you guys are doing?

rainingnovember

[Haley] Hi there. There are many possible disciplines to study if you want to work on board research vessels. There are opportunities to sail as pure scientists (geology, physics, biology, chemistry, etc...) engineers, or technicians. Certain schools are geared more towards ocean science. Seek out these schools and try and find the best field to fit your interest. Take advantage of every opportunity college presents you with and talk to people from many backgrounds along the way. Good luck!


I'm nearly reaching the end of high school. What should I study in college if I want to do all the cool stuff that you guys are doing?

rainingnovember

[Trish] STEM. Almost any field can be applied to the study of the ocean. If there are specific areas you are interested in then you can go from there... For example:

  • Volcanoes - Geology
  • Robots - Engineering
  • Ocean currents - Physical Oceanography
  • Dolphins - O_O good luck with that...

What are the most interesting findings that you have made during the investigation?

What developments, in progress or theoretical, could allow the ocean to be mapped more extensively?

toriholt

[Valentina] The chain of seamounts have never been studied before with this resolution (75 m), so we are discovering an entire new seafloor. From new bathymetric maps, geophysical data and samples collected we are figuring out how these seamounts formed! All of the seafloor has been mapped using satellite data, though the resolution of that data is ~2 km. We need higher resolution data to truly see structures on the seafloor. So, the short answer to your question regarding how we could map the ocean more extensively is that we need to map more frequently. Boats outfitted with multibeam systems could map at a lower resolution while steaming, and we could select interesting areas using this data to map with autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) like Sentry in greater detail.


Does magma change its chemical composition as it flows? If so, does this change how you model the flows? Thanks.

intronert

There are only a couple of places where we can identify a single flow, and the major change we see is degassing CO2. Yes this will change how we model it.

-Mike, Dorsey, Denny, Bridgit, Charelle, Emma


How long until we get a new Hawaii and where will it pop up? That might sound like a joke, but really I'm asking if there are any new island chains in the process of being formed from these submarine volcanoes and which ones are most likely to one day become islands that may be inhabited?

vincentrm

There is a new Hawaiian island forming called Loihi off the southeast coast of the big island. It will takes millions of years before it surfaces, so probably don't invest in property just yet.

-Bridgit, Mike, Dorsey


What area of the world has the least mapped ocean? What is the actual chance of something like the scene in Parannah where an earthquake creates a crack in a some prehistoric underground ecosystem? P.S. Am I the only one wondering when we will get an OASIS like the one in Ready Player One?

dcipriano13

[Jack, Steve, and Craig]

If you're interested in actually seeing the current extent of ocean floor mapping (without out our cruise yet), we use a program called GeoMapApp. To answer more specifically, the oceans around the poles, like the Arctic Ocean, don't get much sea traffic and are difficult to get to. Deep sea trenches are also difficult to get data from.

The chance of a complex ecosystem with large vertebrate life is pretty much nil, but there have already been cases where waters seeping into deep mines contained new microbial life.

As for Ready Player One, the game would be fun, just without the dystopia.


This is an anecdote -- not a question, but maybe this will bring a wry smile. Years ago I was judging a science fair for Fairfax County Schools. The awards were "category" awards - in other words, awards from organizations. I was judging for Geological Society of Washington (GSW). Although judges were given the site locations of the earth science projects to review, in heading to that section, I noticed a project titled "Black Smokers" which was at the other side of the room. I was puzzled to see it in the sociology/psychology section. The young girl at the poster was very upset that the judges who had stopped by to view her work had no earth science expertise. I marched over to the main organizer and asked why a project about underwater vulcanism was placed in the psychology section. I explained that the young student wasn't getting a proper review. The fair organizer said that they routinely designated category placement according to project titles. She said that they had not viewed the project. It turns out that they'd assumed her project presented an overview of the incidence of cigarette use among the Afro-American population. NO JOKE! I got the girl's project re-classified and she went to set up in the proper section. When the award judges heard her presentation (at the last minute) they were impressed and ended up giving her a second place award in earth science. GSW gave her their first prize.

craterlady

LOL


Is anybody on board conducting biological surveys along with the geological surveys?

frenabo

[Trish] We are noting the organisms we are seeing. Originally, Tim Shank, WHOI Biologist was going to join us on board, but unfortunately he was unable to join us. We are sending him lots of pretty pictures of critters. :)


Is anybody on board conducting biological surveys along with the geological surveys?

frenabo

We don't have any biologists on board, but we do note any biology we see for our biologist colleagues! -Bridgit, Emma


-How much of a human presence have you seen on the ocean floor? Aside from a shipwreck, how common is (human-made) trash present?

-Are there any benefits to mining the ocean floor over mining on the surface?

Aximill

[Haley & Valentina] We haven't seen any shipwrecks in our multibeam data or in the Alvin submarine. Shipwrecks are found frequently in the Atlantic Ocean or in bay areas such as the Gulf of Mexico. We're ~600 miles from the coast and not in a major shipping route and fortunately for us, the sea is very clean here.

There are pros and cons to mining the ocean floor. The pros being that we think that certain resources may be more abundant/concentrated in oceanic crust, however mining the seafloor is far more technically difficult and expensive than mining on land. This is a very controversial topic right now, and one that is actively being discussed.


What tools are you guys using to map and record small scale features? Photogrammetry? Point cloud stuff? How do you keep things to scale from a moving sub or ROV?

SlackDiver20

[Steve and Jack]

The tools we use depend on whether we're using the ALVIN submarine or the autonomous SENTRY.

For ALVIN, one of the primary ways to map features is with photography. For photographic scale, the sub uses two laser beams separated by 10 cm that project onto the surfaces of the rocks. It's very bright and easy to see underwater. The purpose of ALVIN is for sampling, and when we reach out and grab a rock for which we have good video footage, the absolute scale is that rock, which we measure in the lab.

For SENTRY, they use a sonar system that senses the bottom and makes its own map of features. It's similar to the ship's multibeam sonar, but much closer to the bottom and more precise. The position of SENTRY is known very well from its own instruments and so the scale is accurate.


What tools are you guys using to map and record small scale features? Photogrammetry? Point cloud stuff? How do you keep things to scale from a moving sub or ROV?

SlackDiver20

[Justin & Molly] Hi SlackDiver20. We use a multibeam sonar for making larger maps, side scan for looking for reflective features, and we have carried a stereo camera in the past that will do high resolution maps. The sonar itself will record in a 1 to 1 scale, but we use a combination of doppler and a high precision compass to help create the map.


Thanks much for doing the work that you do, I'm sharing the information with my five year old and he made the comment that it would take two whole series of legos sets to do what your team is doing. This is blowing his mind!

Mofeux

[Trish] LOL. That's awesome!! And we all love legos. :D We even brought some on board for a prize for our ping pong tournament.


Why didn't you invite Werner Herzog? I would have loved to see hear his poetic comments on underwater volcanoes in the recent documentary on Netflix, into the inferno.

I do have a serious question too. In the aforementioned documentary there a few very large historical eruptions detailed. The only one I can remember off the top of my head is mount paektu in North Korea.

Have there been any massive underwater eruptions? Any in recorded history?

AllReddFred

Unfortunately, none of the scientists on board have Werner's number. Can anyone pass it on?

Krakataua was an underwater eruption during the second half of the eruption (1883). As far as the deep sea, until recently it was impossible to know an underwater eruption was happening - even now, we are only monitoring a few underwater volcanoes. Recent eruptions we know of in the deep sea include Axial Volcano and East Pacific Rise.

-Bridgit, Charelle, Emma, Dorsey, Mike, Denny


Can I come work for you?

My previous post may have posted, I can't tell. I'm bouncing around the desert, currently in a truck with some guns and samples, looking for VMS deposits and hoping to move into something a little more modern, and active. I'll swab your decks in my pirate costume.

ieatglitterfordinner

Check the WHOI/SIO/LDEO/etc job boards to see what is available.


Is it scary down there?

Caiden2000

[Steve]

The scariest part of the whole dive is the very beginning when you're bobbing around on the surface before you submerge. Once submerged, its quiet and still, and you're surrounded by technology that allows you to look through the titanium sphere to the actual ocean floor. It's very well-lit, so you quickly forget to be afraid. The ALVIN system has made almost 5000 dives (4854 as of today to be exact) with no major mishaps, and there's a big team that makes sure that the system works with no danger. There are many redundant safety systems too.

The biggest problem is having to use the bathroom and getting cold. Both of which anyone can figure out how to control.


Is it scary down there?

Caiden2000

I just went on my first dive a couple of days ago, and I wasn't scared at all. It is magical, exciting, amazing, but not scary. However, I can see how it would be frightening if you were claustrophobic or scared of the ocean/dark.

-Bridgit


Is it scary down there?

Caiden2000

[Trish] It is AMAZING. It's like being on another planet. I wasn't scared for a second. A lot of that is due to the amazing pilots and safety protocols that are in place.


How many rolls of electrical tape does Justin use on an average Sentry cruise?

turvy

[Trish] Justin says he uses 5.5 to 6. :)


do you ever regret writing the song Wonderwall?

conzzzzzzz

[Trish] No. That's an awesome song.


do you ever regret writing the song Wonderwall?

conzzzzzzz

[Haley] No, though everyone on the ship has wonderwall stuck in their heads now...


Can drained lava tubes protrude up as a mount formation occurs? IE land of the lost type gimmic?

Are we able to force formations into shapes beyond a typical conical shape we see today with man-made barriers at the ocean floor?

What differs in detection of subsurface flows underwater vs on land?

What protections do you take to ensure your equipment isn't destroyed from the thermal extremes?

What's typical maintenance after an outing your survey equipment needs?

What's the deepest samples you're able to gather below the surface of the floor?

Are you finding any "asphalt volcanos" similar to the west coast of continental US?

Are seamounts the result of both techtonic and magnetic currents forcing lava?

Thanks!

takingphotosmakingdo

Can drained lava tubes protrude up as a mount formation occurs? IE land of the lost type gimmic?

[Matt] The lavas are fairly low viscosity lavas and they may build up over time, but they don't really shoot up vertically. However, even though there are thousands of miles of active volcanoes on the seafloor, we have never directly witnessed an eruption. Just another reason we need more sea-going research.

What differs in detection of subsurface flows underwater vs on land?

[Trish] We can use bottom pressure recorders to observer swelling of submarine volcanoes, and seismometers to listen to magma movement and eruptions, but we can't image them with satellites for example. Basically, it's more difficult to image them, and more difficult to have real time information.

What protections do you take to ensure your equipment isn't destroyed from the thermal extremes?

[Matt] The windows are the most susceptible to heat changes and their are thermometers that monitor their temperature. In fact, the sub has many safety features and redundancy to ensure the safety of the occupants. Hence, their excellent safety record.

What's the deepest samples you're able to gather below the surface of the floor?

[Trish] That would be a question for the Ocean Drilling Program... We are sampling the surface down to depths of ~ 3500 m.

Are seamounts the result of both techtonic and magnetic currents forcing lava?

[Trish] Seamount is a somewhat generic term for a mountain that is underwater. They can be formed by carbonate platforms or volcanic construction.


Do changes in ambient ocean water temperature significantly affect lava cooling rates?

hapaxlegomenonically

Nope. It is pretty much the same temperature in the deep ocean, we are talking about the difference between 2C and 3C. But even if it did change, the lava is so much hotter that it wouldn't make much of a difference.

-Bridgit, Mike, Dorsey, Charelle, Emma


Hi, I also find the underwater world facinating and I am interested in the technology that enables it's exploration. - What types of underwater vehicles are you using to help you with the exploration ? - Do you actually design any of these vehicles yourselves ? - What are the major mechanical challenges that your underwater equipment has to deal with ?

couveland

[Joshua Sisson - Alvin Electronics Tech/Pilot in Training]

Hi couveland. We're using the Alvin HOV and Sentry, an autonomous underwater vehicle. They were both designed at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. There are many challenges associated with underwater equipment. Everything must withstand extreme pressures. For example, on the electrical side we frequently deal with failed electrical connectors. Under high pressure, water can sometimes work its way into the connector and cause grounds, which can give bad data readings, corrode the contacts, and eventually destroy the connector. The pressure of seawater at ~3 km is 2500 PSI, so keeping it from sneaking in is a challenge.


Hi, I also find the underwater world facinating and I am interested in the technology that enables it's exploration. - What types of underwater vehicles are you using to help you with the exploration ? - Do you actually design any of these vehicles yourselves ? - What are the major mechanical challenges that your underwater equipment has to deal with ?

couveland

[Justin & Molly] Hi Couveland. On this expedition, we are using both an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle and a manned submersible. At Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, we also work with Remotely Operated Vehicles such as Jason and hybrid tether vehicles such as Neried Under Ice and Nereid Hybrid Tether. With the help of an engineering team, we do a large portion of the design and fabrication in Woods Hole Massachusetts. One of the major challenges we face is designing for the immense pressure for the depths we operate at. It is also difficult to test our final designs before they are put into operation on scientific sea trials.


Submarine volcanoes sound fascinating. I always thought it was impressive that they were able to put ICBMs on submarines, but volcanoes take it to another level!

How is the magma projected toward the enemy and what is the range?

Crackity__Jones

Ah, the old reddit switch-a-roo!

-Bridgit


Hey, you are awesome for doing an AMA. I've got a question to all PhD Students: How did you become a part of the team, and how did it feel when you found out that you were going to be a part of it?

Mperorpalpatine

Charelle: My graduate advisor, Mike Perfit, is a co-PI on the expedition, and so I was invited pretty much as soon as it was funded. I was super exciting to be invited, and I am loving every minute of it!

Emma and Bridgit: Dan Fornari invited us! We were both thrilled to be invited and feel incredibly lucky to be here.

Yen Joe: My advisor reached out to the chief scientist in order to get me onto this cruise, and luckily they had a spot for me. When I found out I would be coming along I was ecstatic!

Jack, Haley, Valentina and Yan are all the chief scientist's students. They all agree that it still doesn't feel real to get to be here!


Hi there, thanks for the AMA! I am currently 24, a Remote-Emt, and taking gen ed classes prepping for a medical or science bachelor's. Eventually I like to attend a graduate (physician's assistant) or doctorate programme as well. My question is, how do I make myself competitive enough to be picked for work on remote stations or research boats? Any advice, tips, or tricks would be greatly appreciated from the whole team!

SolarFlare1123

[Trish] We don't have any medical personnel aboard, but the Chief Mate is also our Chief Medical Officer who has been trained in emergency triage, etc. See our YouTube video about the Ship's hospital for more info on that (link to YouTube channel in main post above). I'm not sure this really answers your question, but the point being that your options to be a physician on a research vessel may be limited. However, some of the permanent stations in places like Antarctica may be a place to look...


Would you be willing to post several pictures of the interesting things you see and also aren't limited by an NDA.

truckerslife

We aren't limited by NDA, but we are limited by bandwidth. Check out our facebook page and youtube channel (linked in the post) to see some cool photos!

-Bridgit


Would you be willing to post several pictures of the interesting things you see and also aren't limited by an NDA.

truckerslife

Check out our Facebook Page or YouTube channel for images and videos. Information in the main post above.


When you look at spreading zones, and see the magnetic pole shift bands, how fast does it take for the pole to shift, is it gradual? Or is it instant?

curtis7676

[Steve and Jack]

We don't really know specifically, but on geologic timescales it's fairly rapid, decades to millennia. All we see in the geologic record is geologically rapid, but not "instant" by most human reckoning.

The true answer would tell us a lot about convection in the Earth's outer core.


How on earth are you connected to the internet right now?

The0rigin

[Trish] /u/Wrathchilde is spot on. It's pretty slow and we have designated the entire bandwidth to answering reddit questions until 3p EST. :) We upload videos for youtube using a trickle upload in the background. It takes about 3 days to upload a video (they are about 500 MB each).


Hi, and welcome! What is the deepest you have found "signs of man," e.g. shipwrecks, pollution, anything, and in a totally wacky train of thought, do you think it would be hazardous or possible for man to attempt to 'incinerate' waste by dropping it into an underwater volcano, and do underwater volcanoes expel hazardous material into the water, as surface volcanoes expel ash and poisonous gases into the atmosphere? Thank you!

SpuddleBuns

[Trish] I've seen beer cans at ~3000 m. It makes me sad.


Hi guys! Im a second year geology student still trying to figure out what exactly I'd like to do with my life. I was wondering how I could set myself up for a career like this? I know grad school is a must, but are there any specifics you could share? (GPA required, area of concentration for course selection, specific skills, etc...)

AngryCanadian2

[Trish] I found may way into this field by doing summer internship at WHOI after my Junior year. Most of the oceanographic institutions have summer internships (WHOI/LDEO/Scripps/Hawaii/etc). That is what got me hooked on this field. If you want to go to grad school, make sure you are taking enough math and computer science. Geology is a field where you can sometimes graduate with a bare minimum in other core areas, but to compete for grad school slots, you need to have those extra courses in math. Also, I would much rather take on a PhD student who has challenged themselves with upper level math and has a slightly lower GPA than a student who only took the bare minimum and has a 4.0.


Hi guys! Im a second year geology student still trying to figure out what exactly I'd like to do with my life. I was wondering how I could set myself up for a career like this? I know grad school is a must, but are there any specifics you could share? (GPA required, area of concentration for course selection, specific skills, etc...)

AngryCanadian2

[Jack]

I only recently started grad school so I was in a very similar position not too long ago. I'd talk to some of the Geology faculty at your school (or any other professor that works in oceanography) to get an idea of who is doing active research you're interested in, where they are, and whether or not they're taking students. Once you have some target schools, you can get a better sense of what they're looking for and what you'll need to do to have a strong application.

In my experience, and from what I've heard from numerous professors, GPA and GRE scores are generally only used to count people out, so as long as you do "good enough" you should be fine. More important are your recommendation letters, making a good impression when contacting potential advisors, and having evidence of your interest in the subject (taking difficult classes in that area, extracurriculars like internships or field camp, etc.)

Hope that helps!


Do you think magma could be used as a form of renewable energy somehow? Could we harness the energy of underwater or land volcanoes?

rachellekoch

Humans currently use geothermal energy, particularly in Iceland, as a source of renewable energy. Underwater volcanoes are generally too far from land to be an efficient source of energy for us (so far).

-Bridgit, Emma


Since we are having large quakes across the globe, is the closeness of the moon really having any impact ? Also if you could speak to the Cascadia fault line and its impending slip. We appear to be overdue in the Pacific N.W. Thanks to all of the crew for taking the time to do this.

Edit: words

Rvrsurfer

Tidal triggering of earthquakes is an active area of study right now. In some parts of the world it has been shown that earthquakes are potentially triggered by tides, which obviously is related to the moon. Cascadia is a subduction zone, and of course we will eventually get another large earthquake along it. However, the question of when and what exactly 'overdue' means in this case is actively debated.

-Yen Joe, Bridgit, Charelle, Emma


Thanks for doing this AMA! Other than the novelty of sending humans down there (which I totally understand, it's almost like the Apollo program), how does the Alvin platform advance science more than an ROV? Peering through a tiny hole doesn't seem like it could match multiple HD cameras, and with a ROV you can stand watches instead of being stuck in the sphere all day. Not to mention the expense and the risk.

Looking forward to reading your responses in this thread, thanks!

Dartakifinee50

[Dana] I've done many cruises with ROVs, AUVs, and with Alvin. Each platform has its own strengths. For sure, ROVs have great cameras and manipulators and can stay down for almost unlimited amounts of time. But Alvin is very mobile, as it has no tether. Some argue that no cameras can match what humans can see, but personally I think both ways of seeing are very effective.

I think one of the biggest differences between an ROV cruise and an Alvin cruise concerns how people and the technology work together. With Alvin, every day 3 people go to the seafloor and have an incredible experience. With an ROV, ALL the people on the ship are fully engaged almost all the time. The data streams (video, sensor data, etc) from an ROV are almost overwhelming and we need all the folks we have on board to manage and analyze that data. So the nature of work is much different. Both good but different.


If you guys are observing underwater eruptions, do you already know the composition of the lava or do you first need samples to know? Is it possible to get samples of recently cooled lava? If so, how? I know that the sea floor has fairly straight forward composition depending on the tectonic setting, but even still, what could be gained by having samples of new born sea floor? Lots of questions, I know, but thanks for the opportunity to ask!

nine_toes

-We are not observing underwater eruptions, we are observing older lava flows. We know the basics of submarine lava flow composition, but geochemists get into the specifics to learn about lava sources and composition. -It is absolutely possible to get samples of recently cooled lava. Lava erupts and almost immediately forms a glassy rind due to its contact with very cold seawater. Samples of that material tell scientists a lot about the composition of magma. We get those samples using HOVs, ROVs, and dredges. -Samples of new born sea floor give us information about the source of that lava, and so we can learn about the magma reservoir and mantle below.

-Bridgit and Charelle


I understand the Alvin dives are pretty long, like 12 hours. What happens if you need to poop?

Thow1941

[Trish] They have a bag... However, dives are typically < 9 hours, so we plan accordingly. According to the Alvin group, only 5 people have pooped in Alvin (out of 4850+ dives).


Hi! I was wondering what kind of volcanos/lavas are here. Are these looking like OIBs or are these looking more like rift products? I imagine you guys won't know for sure until you've got some spider diagrams made. What do you guys think? Also, are you guys mostly dredging and sampling with the subs or do you have the ability to drill as well?

Thanks for your time! I'm currently working on some basalts from the Western pacific and am trying to describe the evolution of Trace element (including REE) patterns with subsequent eruptions, so this is very interesting to me!

Apatschinn

[Matt] As you correctly pointed out we won't know that for sure until we do additional analyses back on land, but some of the lavas we have sampled do look a little different from typical mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB). For example, some have been more vesicular than typical MORB indicating they have higher gas contents.


Hi! I was wondering what kind of volcanos/lavas are here. Are these looking like OIBs or are these looking more like rift products? I imagine you guys won't know for sure until you've got some spider diagrams made. What do you guys think? Also, are you guys mostly dredging and sampling with the subs or do you have the ability to drill as well?

Thanks for your time! I'm currently working on some basalts from the Western pacific and am trying to describe the evolution of Trace element (including REE) patterns with subsequent eruptions, so this is very interesting to me!

Apatschinn

[Steve, Jack, and Haley]

That's a good first question. We're not in the right tectonic environment to expect large OIBs (Ocean Island Basalts), but some small seamounts studied previously have chemical characteristics that are OIB-like, so we came out here wondering if they would have these characteristics also. So far, our first look appears that they are more rift-like, being composed of a lot of constructional features of basaltic magmatism that emanate from cracks in the lithosphere. Much of this answer will come from trace element chemistry, like the spider diagrams you mentioned.

We will take sample any way we can, including dredges and the submarine. We have to use the submarine during the day, which allows us to dredge at night. Dredging is easier and quicker, but the submarine gives us better samples because we can see exactly where they come from and know they were in place.

Good luck on your work on those western Pacific basalts!


Im a little late to the party but I figured I could still try.

Currently I am a third year student studying electrical engineering, i'm sort of in the limbo where Im looking for internships and other foot-in-the-door opportunities. Every interview I have had up to this point always has a similar question, Why are you passionate about "X" field. Every time I answer the question, whether its about aerospace, power, or communication; I can never give them a full answer. Because in reality, I'm not passionate about any of those fields.

What I am passionate about is the sea, every project I have done in my three years has revolved around the water. This ocean centric resume has really affected me negatively in my interviews for other fields.

So I guess my question is; how can I guide my career in the direction of the ocean. I can always research and find engineering firms, but finding places that focus on any form of ocean technology is a bit harder.

If anyone else has experienced my dilemma I would greatly appreciate some insight.

Also, have you all had a chance to read the book, Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea? It is an excellent book that is right up your alley.

GottaRiskIt

[Trish] WHOI has a great summer internship program (Summer Student Fellows) that takes engineering students. APPLY!! I am sure that other oceanographic institutions have similar opportunities. From Sentry Folks sitting next to me, "we need more electrical engineers. we have lots of mechanical engineers and only one EE."

[Matt] Thank you for the suggestion. I have not read that book.


What is the most serious environmental concern raised by activity in the deep sea? Do you have to take any special precautions against damaging the environment?

Empigee

[Trish] There are lots of precious metals in hydrothermal deposits on the seafloor. Some mining companies are starting to look at ways to exploit these resources through deep sea mining. This has the potential of having significant environmental impacts, but the problem is that we won't be able to see or fully assess the damage. The issue I see is that there is still a lot we don't know or understand about the Earth's seafloor. More research will help us to better assess both the resources and environmentally sound and sustainable practices for utilizing them.


Bridget! I had my Marine Science class with you in high school. We did one of our projects together! It's awesome to see you doing this kind of work now, and it's pretty cool that I was able to see the early stages of that. Question, why the hell did we not get a better microphone for our interview!? That wind was killer.

VenomC

Chris! Thanks for helping me get my start! I don't know why we didn't have a better microphone, maybe we should go back and redo it? -Bridgit


How eery is it down there?

LordBran

Not at all. -Bridgit and Emma


Is it possible for a lava pool to form underwater?

Doomenate

We find lava ponding and retreating, not necessarily a pool. We do see drained lava lakes. -Charelle and Matt


Hi! Thank you so much for doing this AmA! My question is kind of basic... What is the difference between a submarine volcano and a hydrothermal vent? Do they both create new crust layers?

space-person

Submarine volcanoes and hydrothermal vents are often found together, but they are distinct. Submarine volcanoes erupt actual lava, while hydrothermal vents expel fluids enriched in oxides and sulfides. Volcanoes create new crust, as in actual rocks. Vents build up layers of the minerals that they expel over time in order to create the cone-like structures we associate with vents.
-Charelle and Bridgit


This is truly amazing. I'm in IT and doing something like this would be an absolute dream of mine. Are there any opportunities for someone like me to come and work with/for you guys?

JusticeBeaver13

[Dana/Trish] Go to the webpage of any of the major oceanographic institutions (WHOI, LDEO, UWashington, Scripps, Miami, Oregon State) and check their websites for openings / submit an application.

[Allison SSSG] Don't wait for an opening. Go to the websites and make contact with people in the department to let them know you are interested.

[Dana] We are always looking for good IT people.


what are the weirdest things you have found underwater?

How will doing undersea / seafloor research help us to understand our earth ?

sidhantsv

[Trish] I thought the tripod fish we saw on our Alvin dive last week were pretty wild. There are a couple of photos posted on FB. :)

[Matt] I thought the dumbo octopus was pretty cool, too.

How will doing undersea / seafloor research help us to understand our earth ?

2/3 of the Earth's surface is underwater, and we know less about our seafloor than the surface of Mars. Understanding the ocean and ocean floor is fundamental to understanding Earth.


Wow that's a big team. Are all of them on board the Atlantis?

Question about being sea sick.

Are all of you guys the type who can handle reading a computer screen on a boat? Or are some of you hopped up on drugs all day to keep the motion sickness at bay?

After five minutes of looking at a computer on a boat in a bay (relatively calm day), everything started swirling and I had to relay commands while staring at a mountain on the horizon for the next hour. I certainly couldn't Science in that state, much less anything your jobs seem to demand.

MCPtz

[Trish] Yes we are all board. It's been a fun time!

Are all of you guys the type who can handle reading a computer screen on a boat? Or are some of you hopped up on drugs all day to keep the motion sickness at bay?

Some of the science party are wearing ear patches for the entire trip, but most of us are fine. The RV Atlantis is much larger than a small vessel or sailboat so the action is quite different.

[Jack] Every time I try to get off the ear patch, I get seasick again and have to go back on. I can use my computer and everything just fine when I have the ear patch on.

[Emma] I had one on at the beginning. I took it off after a few days and was seasick for about a day. I powered through and then I was okay. :)


Would you care to speculate on novel things you might find?

hglman

[Steve and Jack] First of all, none of these seamounts have been mapped in detail. So we are the first ever to see them in the submarine and map them. Finding and seeing them is the most novel thing. Another novel is the way the undersea eruptions look. Given how the seamounts are aligned relative to the plate motion of plate tectonics, there should be some novel mechanisms of their formation. We also expect the composition of the magmas, which will be determined after we get off the ship, to be very different than basalts that form on the East Pacific Rise.


I know this isn't technically a scientific question but how important are mathematicians within your experiment? If you even have any.

Dillster01

[Trish] I use math every. single. day. x10. seriously. all day. every day. forever.


Additional Assets

License

This article and its reviews are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and redistribution in any medium, provided that the original author and source are credited.