Alex Malahoff (right) and Dan Fornari (left), during the 1980 Galapagos expedition, pictured on Alvin's mothership Lulu. The science party was celebrating the 1000th dive of the Alvin submersible. Click image for larger view
Alex Malahoff exits Pisces V after Dive 623 to Clark Volcano. Click image for larger view.
A Dive to Clark Volcano: Full Circle for a Pioneer
April 30, 2005
Co-Chief Scientist for the New Zealand American Submarine Ring of Fire Expedition (Legs 1 and 2)
NOAA Vents Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Newport, Oregon
A trip to the bottom inside the PiscesV submersible. (Quicktime, 2.1 Mb.)
Alex Malahoff made his first submersible dive almost 35 years ago. Born in Russia, surviving the awful time of war in his homeland, his family emigrated to New Zealand in the late 1940s. After graduating from Victoria University (Wellington, New Zealand) in 1963 he completed his PhD work at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Hawaii. After some years as Associate Professor of Oceanography at the University of Hawaii, he became a program director at the Office of Naval Research for Marine Geology in the early 1970s. It was here that he took on the role of promoting the use of submersibles for ocean science. During the 1970s he made dives with submersibles ranging from the Alvin to the NR1 Navy research submersible that could stay on the seafloor for weeks at a time. After coming to NOAA in the late 1970s as the Chief Scientist of the National Ocean Survey, he organized and led expeditions to the Galapagos Ridge. The discovery of copper-rich massive sulfides on the Galapagos Ridge in 1980 paved the way for other research on submarine hydrothermal systems, leading to the creation of the NOAA Vents Program in 1984. By that time his energies were transferred back to Hawaii as he took up the position of Professor of Oceanography, Director for the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL). It wasn't long before he had acquired the Pisces V submersible and then its mother ship the R/V Kaimikai-O-Kanaloa ( View a trip to the bottom inside the PiscesV submersible.) In 2002 he returned to New Zealand as the Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, one of the Ocean Exploration Program's two New Zealand partners in this expedition (the other being the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research). For almost twenty years, Alex has passionately promoted the concept of using the Pisces on the island arcs of the western Pacific, and finally, in 2005, he is seeing his dream realized.
Hot water (221° C, 430° F) was sampled at the base of this sulfide chimney, which is almost 6 meters (19.5 feet) high. Click image for larger view.
Yesterday, Alex, now 66 years of age, dove to the seafloor at Clark volcano, discovering a whole new world. Clark Volcano is named after Robert Clark, Professor of Geology at Victoria University (where Alex studied geology) and the father of Malcolm Clark, marine biologist and a member of the scientific team on Leg I. The summit of Clark volcano is covered by lava surfaces encrusted with coatings of hydrothermal manganese and iron oxide/silica crusts. As Pisces traversed towards the summit of the volcano it came across signs of diffuse hydrothermal flow supporting communities of long-necked barnacles and small tube worms ( View the life found living around hydrothermal vent sites on Clark volcano.) The large beds of mussels seen on the tops of some of the other Kermadec volcanoes were not found on Clark, although a few small mussels were recovered along with the barnacles. The highlight of the dive was the discovery of two large sulfide chimneys dubbed the Two Towers by the dive team. The Two Towers and neighboring chimneys are constructed of sulfides and sulfates. Hot water was still streaming through the chimney - samples of 221° C (430° F) fluids were taken at the base of the largest chimney, which measured almost 6 meters (19.5 feet) high and several meters across the base.
After returning from his dive to Clark Volcano, Alex briefed the science party with an enthusiasm undiminished over the decades since he first climbed into a submersible sphere.
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