Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Explorers

Andra BobbittAndra Bobbitt
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies Program, Oregon State University
NOAA Vents Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

Andra Bobbitt has participated in over 35 research expeditions in 20 years of working in marine geology. Her work has involved processing acoustic navigation and multibeam bathymetry data, establishing an oceanographic geographic information system (GIS) and serving as the Webmaster for the Vents program. She graduated in 1984 from the University of California at San Diego, where she then began working at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In 1991, she moved to Oregon to work for the NOAA Vents Program. For the Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 expedition, she will serve as the Ocean Exploration data manager.



Sheryl BoltonSheryl Bolton
Research Technician
University of Washington

Sheryl Bolton is a research technician studying the microbiology of hydrothermal vent fluids. She will be focusing on culturing high-temperature anaerobic microorganisms from venting fluids, as well as taking filtered water samples for DNA extraction and microscopic analyses. The University of Washington lab uses a combination of methods to try to understand this complex ecosystem. Bolton will use hydrothermal fluids and the associated microbes as a window into the mysterious subsurface world. The lab maintains a large collection of organisms isolated primarily from mid-ocean ridge vents around the world, but few are from systems like the Mariana arc. Using information obtained from DNA studies in 2004, Bolton will attempt to culture particular groups of organisms (high temperature, low pH, sulfur-loving "bugs") known to be present in the venting fluids, with the aim of finding new and potentially novel species.

nathan BuckNathan Buck
Research Technician
Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean Program, University of Washington
NOAA Vents Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

Nathan Buck received a bachelor's of science degree in marine science from Long Island University, Southampton College, in December 1999. He continued his education at Stony Brook University, where he received a master's degree in the environmental and coastal sciences. Since then, he has worked as an oceanographic research tech. During this cruise, his main responsibility will be to collect samples for trace metals and carbon-dioxide measurements from hydrothermal plumes.

Dave ButterfieldDave Butterfield
Chemical Oceanographer
Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean Program, University of Washington
NOAA Vents Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory — Seattle, Washington

Dave Butterfield received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and German from Portland State University, served two years in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa, and received a doctorate in chemical oceanography from the University of Washington. His primary research interests concern the interaction of seawater with the solid crust in volcanic hydrothermal systems. Topics of special interest to Butterfield include the effects of boiling on hydrothermal fluids; the role of magmatic volatiles in hydrothermal systems; the evolution of hydrothermal systems over time; the effects of volcanic eruptions; and the role of fluid chemistry in microbial ecology. Butterfield has sailed on 34 submersible expeditions to hydrothermal sites on the Juan de Fuca ridge, Southern East Pacific Rise, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Mariana volcanic arc, and Kermadec volcanic arc.

Bill ChadwickBill Chadwick
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies Program, Oregon State University
NOAA Vents Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory – Newport, Oregon

Bill Chadwick studies volcanoes, both on land and underwater.  He got hooked on volcanoes after Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, when he was a senior geology major at Colorado College. St. Helens became the focus of his graduate work at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he earned his PhD. His main interest during the 2006 Submarine Ring of Fire expedition is to investigate the eruptive behavior of the submarine volcanoes in the Mariana arc.

Rick DavisRick Davis
Graduate Student
Western Washington University

Richard Davis is a graduate student in biology at Western Washington University with Dr. Craig Moyer. His research concentrates on microbial community diversity, emphasizing the spatial and temporal dynamics of microbial mat communities at hydrothermal vents. During this cruise, Davis will prepare samples of microbial mats for later DNA extraction, and will also attempt to culture novel chemoautotrophic microbes from the microbial mats.

Nick DeardorffNick Deardorff
Graduate Student
University of Oregon

Nick Deardorff is a graduate student at the University of Oregon where he studies physical volcanology with Dr. Kathy Cashman. Nick received his BS in marine science and geology at the University of Miami, Florida. His primary interest for this cruise will be the physical and geochemical comparison of submarine and subaerial volcanic arcs.

Cornel E.J. de RondeCornel E. J. de Ronde
Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences
Lower Hutt, New Zealand

Cornel de Ronde is a principal scientist at the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (GNS). He leads the "Offshore Minerals" part of the "Economic Growth for New Zealand through Mineral Wealth" program. The offshore minerals research has largely concentrated on sea-floor hydrothermal vents associated with submarine arc volcanoes of the Kermadec arc, northeast of New Zealand. This group was funded in late 2004 to continue their work which started in 1997. Since that time, de Ronde and colleagues at GNS, NOAA, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and elsewhere, have surveyed the entire Kermadec arc (about 1,300 km) and beyond into international and Tongan territorial waters, which they completed in September/October of 2004. They have surveyed about 35 major volcanoes and 8 smaller volcanic edifices. In October/November 2004, de Ronde and colleagues teamed up with Japanese scientists and dove on Brothers volcano with the submersible Shinkai 6500. Then in April/May 2005, de Ronde and colleagues completed  23 dives on 9 different volcanoes using the submersible Pisces V as part of the New Zealand-American Submarine Ring of Fire expedition.  De Ronde and colleagues have also participated on research cruises to map the Tofua (Tonga), Tabar-Lihir-Tanga-Feni (Papua, New Guinea) and Mariana (Guam) arcs, and the Ghizo Ridge (Solomon Islands) for submarine hydrothermal venting.


Dr. John DowerJohn Dower
Biological Oceanographer
University of Victoria

John Dower studies how shallow seamounts come to support rich fish stocks and the role of biophysical coupling in planktonic ecosystems. On this Submarine Ring of Fire (SRoF) cruise, he will be collecting samples of a new flatfish species that was discovered on the SRoF'04 cruise, and which seems to live by digesting bacteria from the sediments. As flatfish are not usually associated with vents, this is quite novel. Dower is also on the scientific steering of CenSeam (the Census of Marine Life's seamounts component), which aims to determine the role of seamounts in the biogeography, biodiversity, productivity, and evolution of marine organisms.

Bob EmbleyBob Embley  [ microphone OceanAGE interview ]
Chief Scientist
Submarine Ring of Fire Expedition 2006
NOAA Vents Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

Dr. Bob Embley received a PhD in marine geology and geophysics from Lamont Doherty Geological (now Earth) Observatory in 1975 and came to NOAA in 1979. He has been with NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Newport, Oregon, and has since served as team leader for marine geology in the NOAA Vents Program. His more than 80 scientific publications include studies of a wide range of deep-sea features, including submarine canyons, sediment slides, fracture zones, the mid-ocean ridge, and most recently, intraoceanic arc volcanoes. He has participated in more than 50 oceanographic expeditions in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Antarctic oceans over 39 years, and has experience with deep-towed cameras, side scan sonars, manned submersibles and remotely operated vehicles. He has participated in all of the Submarine Ring of Fire (SRoF) expeditions since 2002 and served as chief scientist on SRoF'04 to the Mariana arc.

Leigh EvansLeigh Evans
Research Assistant
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies Program, Oregon State University
NOAA Vents Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

Leigh Evans has worked with the helium isotope lab at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, for 12 years. His activities include the extraction of gases from water samples, chemical analysis of helium isotopes, the development of new methods and instrumentation, and the analysis of helium isotope data. He graduated from San Diego State University with an MS and Lafayette College with a BS in chemistry. Previous to Hatfield, he worked for 5 years with a manufacturer of chemical analysis instrumentation. He has participated in 12 oceanographic expeditions in the past 12 years. On the Ocean Exploration cruises he will be gathering samples of vent fluids for gas analysis.

Ron GreeneRon Greene
Research Assistant
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies Program, Oregon State University
NOAA Vents Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

Ron Greene has been part of the NOAA Vents chemistry group working out of Newport, Oregon, for 14 years. He is a research technician at Oregon State University and earned his bachelor's degree in geological oceanography from the University of Washington. He specializes in the collection and processing of seawater samples for helium along with the data analysis. The degree of mantle enrichment of helium isotopes 3He and 4He, found in the seawater samples, is determined using a high vacuum extraction lab and an extremely sensitive mass spectrometer in Newport.  Greene used to fish commercially and he spent time in the Navy

Julie HuberJulie Huber
NASA Astrobiology Institute Postdoctoral Fellow
Marine Biological Laboratory — Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Julie Huber received a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Eckerd College and a doctorate in biological oceanography from the University of Washington.  Her research focuses on the subseafloor biosphere associated with deep-sea hydrothermal vents and uses low temperature hydrothermal diffuse fluids as a window into the subseafloor microbial habitat.  Huber is especially interested in heat-loving organisms, or thermophiles, and she uses a combination of methods to link microbial groups with their metabolic and physiological functions in the subseafloor.  This is her first deep-sea adventure outside of the northeast Pacific Ocean, where she logged many research cruises studying the subseafloor microbial populations at hydrothermal vents along the Juan de Fuca Ridge.  She is also interested in the origin and evolution of early microbial communities in extreme environments, astrobiology, microbial biogeography, and technological developments for deep-sea and space exploration and experimentation.

Ben LarsonBen Larson
Graduate Student
University of Washington

Ben Larson is a graduate student in chemical oceanography at the University of Washington in Marvin Lilley's lab. He will be working on shipboard gas chromatographic analysis of volatile concentrations in the sampled fluid to determine the amount of dissolved H2, CH4, and N2O in the fluids. The chromatographic data collected at sea is not as detailed as the information that can be obtained from a more advanced land-based apparatus, which can measure the concentrations of a greater number of the dissolved volatile components. It is, however, an important component of an exploratory cruise because it yields information about the fluids within a day of their collection. This information is critical in determining where to explore for new hydrothermal venting sites.

Susan MerleSusan Merle
Senior Research Assistant
Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies Program, Oregon State University
NOAA Vents Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

Susan Merle graduated in 1993 from the University of Washington with a BS in oceanography, emphasizing marine geology and geophysics. Previous to her more than eight years of work with the Vents program, she worked for five years in the sea-floor survey industry. Merle specializes in sea-floor data acquisition, processing, analysis, and three-dimensional rendering of ocean features and their geological interpretation. She manages large data sets that include bathymetry, sidescan/backscatter, sea-floor sample information, and real-time logging system data collected by a variety of sea-floor remote sensing systems. She has been the Web coordinator on four previous Ocean Exploration (OE) signature expeditions (Submarine Ring of Fire 2002 through 2005), and will resume that role for the OE Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Web site.

Ko-ichi NakamuraKo-ichi Nakamura
Marine Chemist
National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology
Institute for Marine Resources and Environment, Japan

Ko-ichi Nakamura has been sailing with the NOAA Vents Program personnel since the 1993 Japanese-American joint cruise to the Southeast Pacific Rise on the research vessel (R/V) Melville. He had visited the Mariana submarine volcanoes for the first time in 1985 with Bob Stern on the old R/V Thompson. He participated in two Submarine Ring of Fire cruises (2003 and 2004) with Bob Embley on the new R/V Thompson. In October/November of 2005, he led the international team of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology R/V Natsushima and remotely operated vehicle Hyper-Dolphin cruise in the northernmost part of the Mariana arc. During his fifth cruise to the Mariana volcanoes, he will be studying particles both in hydrothermal fluids and plumes using laser-particle analysers, as well as by sampling and studying the reduced environment distribution around vents using redox sensors. He will also attempt to pick up his redox sensor deployed with University of Washington sensors in the summit crater vent of Nikko seamount last November.

Joseph ResingJoseph Resing
Chemical Oceanographer
Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean Program, University of Washington
NOAA Vents Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

Joe Resing is a research scientist at the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and the Ocean, a cooperative institute between the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and the University of Washington (UW). Resing is an affiliate assistant professor of chemical oceanography at the UW School of Oceanography. He studied chemistry at DePaul University and earned his master's and doctorate in chemical oceanography at the University of Hawaii. Resing has participated in over 20 major oceanographic expeditions and has spent more than a year's worth of days at sea.

Lori L. SavageLori L. Savage
Educator at Sea
Rogue Community College

Lori Savage has been an Adult Basic Education instructor for nine years at Rogue Community College. Interspersed with math and science classes for the GED, she has also taught biology and anatomy and physiology for the Rogue science department. Her educational background includes a BS from University of Redlands, in California, and an MA in biology from CSU, Dominguez Hills. Savage served two years in the Philippines as an agroforestry Peace Corps volunteer, and has also taught high school in Los Angeles’ inner city. On the cruise, she will act as a research assistant and an educational liaison.

Boku TakanoBoku Takano
Professor Emeritus
University of Tokyo

Boku Takano is a retired geochemist who has been working on geochemistry of intermediately-oxidized sulfur species in aquatic systems, especially on sulfur species in active crater lakes, including molten sulfur. Seeking various types of active crater lakes, Takano has visited New Zealand, Indonesia, Kamchatka, Costa Rica, and Argentina. Based on the variation of polythioates (SxO62-) in the lake water, he has monitoredsublimic fumarolic activity, which is likely to forecast a phreatic eruption in the lake. Takano spent 36 years teaching students chemistry at the University of Tokyo, and this is his forth year after retirement. He is now a part-time lecturer at two private universities, and a kitchen geochemist at the same time. That means he is still monitoring polythionates in Yugama crater lake, Kusatsu-Shirane volcano, Central Japan, using a 20-year-old high performance liquid chromotography (HPLC) system on his desk at home. He will take this old friend along on this cruise to analyze sulfur species in hydrothermal fluid. Takano is used to walking around subaerial volcanoes, but this is the first time he will work on submarine volcanoes on board a ship. He is feeling a little uneasy about this new experience, but also is very curious for it indeed.

Verena TunnicliffeVerena Tunnicliffe
Canada Research Chair in Deep Oceans
University of Victoria, Canada

As a keen enthusiast of marine biology, Verena Tunnicliffe has worked on mudflats, coral reefs, fjords, seamounts, and deep-sea environments. Her work focuses on animal adaptations to the challenges of the physical, chemical, and geologic world. Her work on hot vent communities has included an examination of how animal vent faunas around the world are related. She has pursued interests in technological advances to improve deep-ocean studies and is currently director of a cabled observatory project called VENUS.

Sharon WalkerSharon Walker
NOAA Vents Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

Sharon Walker has been an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) in Seattle, Washington, since 1979, and a member of the NOAA Vents program since it began in 1984. She specializes in the development of methods and instrumentation for the detection, monitoring and mapping of hydrothermal plumes, including the PMEL MAPR (miniature autonomous plume recorder). She has participated in numerous research expeditions to mid-ocean ridges and submarine arc volcanoes. During this expedition, Walker will collect hydrographic and optical data with the CTD (an instrument that measures conductivity, temperature, and depth), and with MAPRs during other operations.

Jason II Team

Alberto Collasius, Jr
Engineering Assistant III
Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Robert Elder
Engineer II
Woods Hole Deep Submergence Laboratory
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Phil FortePhil Forte
Mechanical Engineer
Woods Hole Deep Submergence Laboratory
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Phil Forte has been with the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason group for about two years. While at sea, he works as a mechanical technician and Jason pilot; between cruises he's a mechanical engineer back at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Prior to his work with Jason, Forte he was an Alvin pilot, starting with WHOI back in 1998. He got his interest in oceanography via scuba diving like many others by watching Jacques Cousteau and Seahunt on TV. Although driving Jason is a thoroughly enjoyable aspect of going to sea, watching the sea floor via video camera is just not the same as seeing it out of the Alvin viewport — and knowing it's only several feet away.

Robert FuhrmannRobert Fuhrmann
Woods Hole Deep Submergence Laboratory
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Robert Furhmann works as a Jason II remotely operated vehicle support engineer for electrical systems and navigation. Interests include supporting science teams in remote cold weather regions, such as the Arctic and Antarctica.

Will HandleyWill Handley
Navigator and Camera Specialist
Woods Hole Deep Submergence Laboratory
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — Woods Hole, Massachusetts

Will Handley joined Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Shipboard Scientific Services Group in 1992. He sailed full time on the research vessels Knorr and AII, until 1997. Since then, he has been working with the Deep Submergence Laboratory (DSL) as a navigator and camera specialist. Handley also provides science technical support in the Arctic and technical support for aerial camera systems.

Dara Scott

Will Sellers
Senior Engineering Assistant II
Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution — Woods Hole, Massachusetts


Akel SterlingAkel Sterling
Sonar ROV Data Specialist

Akel Sterling received a bachelor's degree in geology and geophysics in 1998, and a master's in marine geophysics in 2003 — both from the University of Hawaii. His thesis investigated plate tectonic models derived from hot-spot chains. Sterling has worked for the Hawaii Mapping Research Group since 2001, and has traveled widely, mainly around the Pacific Ocean, as a part of his job. His main duties include processing acoustic data from different systems, and he is also involved with the data systems onboard the remotely operated vehicle Jason.

Jim Varnum


Bob WatersBob Waters
Jason ROV Pilot / Electronics Engineer
Waters Edge Benthic Services
Lake Arrowhead, California

Bob Waters is a veteran of over 60 cruises. He is a former Alvin pilot and now contracts to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for Jason operations support. Waters has been piloting Jason since 1996. When not working on Jason operations, he develops electronics and software for scientific instrumentation.

R/V Melville Team

Chris Curl
Murray Stein
1st Mate
Eric Wakeman
2nd Mate
Alejo Alejo
3rd Mate
William Kamholz
Cletus Finnell
Edward Keenan
Brian Mattheisen
Paul Shute
Robert Seeley
Sr Cook
Dax McTaggert
Paul Bueren
Chief Engineer

Dennis Barclay
1st A/E
Patrick Fitzgerald
2nd A/E
Ernie Juhasz
3rd A/E
John Boing
Charles Hall
John Baon
Manuel Ramos
Robert Juhasz
William Brown
Cambria Colt
Resident Technician
Dan Jacobson
Computer Technician