This blog will be following a research expedition from September 3-19 working at Axial Seamount, an active submarine volcano located about 300 miles west of the Oregon coast. Axial Seamount lies on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, a tectonic plate boundary where the Pacific Plate and the Juan de Fuca Plate spread apart and magma rises to fill the gap and creates new seafloor. The most recent eruption at Axial Seamount occurred in 2011 when new lava flows covered the south end of the caldera, burying old hydrothermal vents and creating new ones. During our September expedition, we will be on the research vessel Thompson making a series of dives with the remotely operated vehicle Jason. Jason is an unmanned robotic vehicle that is lowered on a cable and controlled by pilots on board the ship.
Chief Scientist Bill Chadwick and Jason.
The dives will be used to: (1) monitor how much the volcano has re-inflated since the 2011 eruption, (2) sample fluids and microbes at hydrothermal vents for chemical and genetic analysis, and (3) deploy experiments to test the feasibility of generating power from the heat at hydrothermal vents. Please join us by looking over our shoulder while we explore this very exciting natural laboratory! This research is funded by the National Science Foundation, NOAA/PMEL, and the Office of Naval Research.