GalAPAGoS: Where Ridge Meets Hotspot
December 3, 2005 - January 10, 2006
In December 2005 and January 2006, an interdisciplinary team of 38 scientists will venture to a deep sea site north of the Galapagos Islands to conduct research on the Galapagos Spreading Center, which is part of the global mid-ocean ridge. The global mid-ocean ridge is a giant volcanic seam where oceanic plates repeatedly rip apart and erupt lava to form new seafloor, in a process known as "seafloor spreading." Nearly one-fifth of the "spreading centers" comprising the mid-ocean ridge lie directly above or very near "hotspots" in the Earth's mantle. At oceanic hotspots, melting plumes of hot rock rise from deep in the Earth's mantle and erupt lava at the seafloor to form seamounts and volcanic islands.
Our mission during the GalAPAGoS Expedition (Galapagos Acoustical, Plumes, and Geobiological Surveys) is to explore a 400 km-long section of the Galapagos Spreading Center located above the mantle plume that has created the Galapagos Islands.
The portion of the Galapagos Spreading Center where our surveys will take place is completely unexplored for hydrothermal vents and other fine-scale seafloor features, therefore everything that we map and image on this expedition will be a new discovery! Using towed near-bottom sonars, hydrothermal plume sensors, and cameras, we seek to uncover hydrothermal, geological and biological responses to magma supply and crustal thickness along our survey region.
This GalAPAGoS Expedition is jointly funded by the National Science Foundation Marine Geology and Geophysics Program and the NOAA Ocean Exploration Program. Participating scientists, technicians, students and crew come from seven U.S. institutions and agencies (University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), University of Washington, University of South Carolina, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of Hawaii, NOAA Pacific Marine and Environmental Laboratory, and NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration) and the Instituto Oceanografico de la Armada (INOCAR) in Ecuador. A dozen UCSB students on board the ship are taking a seagoing course from UCSB Professors Rachel Haymon (project chief scientist and lead PI) and Ken Macdonald (co-PI).
NOAA Podcast :
Listen to the NOAA-produced audio podcast on this mission.
Result Of Calderas Naming Contest:
When ocean explorers at sea on an ocean expedition asked for help from students to name a pair of undersea calderas in the Pacific Ocean near the Galapagos spreading zone, school classes from across the nation submitted votes for one of six names suggested by the explorers. Visit this page to learn the winning name.
For stories and photos from some other NSF-funded, deep-sea expeditions, see: www.venturedeepocean.org
Updates & Logs
Click images or links below for detailed mission logs and updates.