This week’s Photo of the Week on the NOAA Vents Program comes from Steve Hammond and Bill Chadwick:
A paper was recently published in the journal Oceanography describing the 30-year history of the NOAA Vents program at HMSC. An open-source PDF of the paper is available here: http://www.tos.org/oceanography/archive/28-1_hammond.pdf
In 1984, Vents started as a fledgling mapping program that was the first civilian research effort to utilize a newly declassified multibeam sonar system, and set out to make high-resolution maps of the Juan de Fuca and Gorda seafloor spreading centers. The seminal geological and biological discoveries along the Galapagos Ridge, made just a few years before, led NOAA scientists at HMSC, along with their partners in the OSU Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, to search for similar hydrothermal vents and chemosynthetic animal communities in the northeast Pacific.
Vents expedition to the Juan de Fuca Ridge with the manned submersible Alvin in 1991. Front row (L-R): Mike Stapp, Bob Embley, Bill Chadwick, Dan Dion, Ian Johnasson, Gary Massoth. Back row (L-R): Richard Feely, Chris Meinig, Randy Koski, John Lupton, Sharon Walker, John Trefry, Kevin Roe, Jim Gendron, Ed Baker, Andra Bobbitt, Dave Butterfield.
The maps that resulted from these initial efforts revolutionized ocean bathymetric mapping and led to the discovery of many vents and exotic animal communities along both the Juan de Fuca and Gorda Ridges. Vents quickly grew into an interdisciplinary exploration and research program whose overarching goal was to determine how submarine volcanism impacted the global ocean’s physical, chemical, and biological environments.
Over the program’s three decade time span (2003-2013), a multitude of fundamental ocean discoveries were made, many enabled by the development and innovative utilization of a host of state-of-the-art sensors and systems, including, for example, unique acoustic monitoring of geological and marine mammal activity the NE Pacific, a novel method for using CTDs to effectively prospect for the heat and chemical signatures of hydrothermal plumes, and the use of seafloor pressure sensors to provide continuous information about the movement of magma that results in volcanic eruptions.
Vents group in 2000. Back row (L-R): Steve Hammond, John Graham, Bill Chadwick, Ed Baker, Chris Fox, Dave Butterfield, John Lupton, Bill Lavelle, Bob Embley, Richard Feely, Bob Dziak, Joe Resing. Front row (L-R) Glenn Cannon, Gary Massoth.
In 2013, the Vents program was reorganized into two distinct but still scientifically linked programs, the Earth-Oceans Interactions and Acoustics programs.
Like Vents, both programs are headquartered at the HMSC. The two new programs are currently focused on ocean environmental processes important to NOAA and the Nation, including ocean acidification, discovering living and non-living ocean resources, and understanding the origins and fate of submarine sources of volcanic and hydrothermal carbon dioxide and chemical elements such as iron, which is an important ocean nutrient.