NOAA Exploration Offices

Because ocean exploration is multidisciplinary and encompasses many aspects of NOAA’s mission, this initial collection only offers the main NOAA programs and offices engaged in ocean exploration activities. In some cases, ocean exploration is only a small part of the offices' mission. Please visit their Web offerings for more information.

Each entry provides the name of the NOAA office, Web site address, and description of the program or office.

Office of Ocean Exploration

National Marine Sanctuary Program

National Undersea Research Program (NURP)

Vents Program

 

Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

NOAA Office
Ocean Exploation & Research
Description
This office is responsible for coordinating
NOAA's Ocean Exploration Initiative.

 

 

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National Marine Sanctuary Program

NOAA Office
National Ocean Service
Description
NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program serves as the trustee for the nation's system of 13 marine protected areas. They conserve, protect, and enhance their biodiversity, ecological integrity and cultural legacy. Its goals are appropriate to the unique diversity contained within individuals sites, including restoration, monitoring and maintaining already healthy areas. One sanctuary may protect the breeding ground of humpback whales while another houses the remains of historical shipwrecks. Yet all share in common a growing circle of partners and volunteers who embrace the program's ocean ethic--to preserve and protect and respect our nation's marine environment.

 

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National Undersea Research Program (NURP)

NOAA Office
Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
Description
Provides undersea scientists with tools and expertise to work in the undersea environment, including submersibles, remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles, mixed-gas diving gear, underwater laboratories and observatories. NURP's peer-reviewed science programs cover a range of undersea environments and are carried out by regional centers.

 


Caribbean:

The National Undersea Research Center for the Caribbean region, hosted by the Caribbean Marine Research Center (NURC/CMRC)

Description
Supports undersea research throughout the entire Caribbean region. Research programs use sophisticated undersea technology, including remotely operated vehicles, manned submersibles, and scuba diving.

 


Hawaii/Pacific:

The National Undersea Research Center for Hawaii and the Western Pacific region (NURC/HWP) at the University of Hawaii

Description
Supports research of deep-water marine processes in the Pacific Ocean, with a focus on deep-sea geology and marine ecosystems. Technology available to researchers includes the Pisces V Submersible, the RC-150 remotely operated vehicle, and the research ship R/V Ka'imikai-o-Kanaloa. Projects include monitoring Loihi volcanic activity and hydrothermal systems.

 


Middle Atlantic:

The National Undersea Research Center for the Middle Atlantic Bight region (NURC/MAB)at Rutgers University.

Description
Supports undersea research in the Mid-Atlantic Bight, a region that extends from Montauk, N.Y. to the Virginia/North Carolina border. Leo-15, one of three long-term ecosystem observations supported by the Center, is an extensive array of instruments off the coast of New Jersey covering thousands of square miles and delivering real-time ocean data.

 


North Atlantic/Great Lakes:

The National Undersea Research Center for the North Atlantic and Great Lakes region at the University of Connecticut-Avery Point

Description
Places emphasis on providing researchers access to specialized underwater technologies.

 


Southeast/Gulf of Mexico:

The National Undersea Research Center for the Southeastern United States and Gulf of Mexico region (NURC/SEGM) at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington

Description
Supports undersea research off the southeastern United States from North Carolina to Texas. Its 2001 Missions include the Aquarius Program, The Monitor Expedition, and Jason XI.

 


West Coast/Polar Regions:

The National Undersea Research Center for the U.S. West Coast and Polar Regions at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks

Description
Conducts research and supports scientists along the western U.S. and polar regions. Ocean exploration research topics include active faulting, methane vents, sediment geochemistry, material flux, ice dynamics, and benthic biology. The Center also leases advanced undersea technology systems, including shallow- and deep-diving submersibles, low-cost and remotely operated vehicles, side-scan sonars and high-resolution seismic reflection systems.

 

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Vents Program

NOAA Office
NOAA Research Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL)
Description
Conducts research on the impacts and consequences of submarine volcanoes and hydrothermal vents in the global ocean. Current areas of research include the Juan de Fuca Ridge, Axial Seamount, Gorda Ridge, and the East Pacific Rise. The Vents Program supports several major research activities including (1) acoustic monitoring, (2) chemical oceanography, (3) geology/geophysics, (4) hydrothermal plume studies, (5) modeling, (6) physical oceanography, and 7) the NEMO project.

 


Acoustic Monitoring

Description
Performs continuous monitoring of ocean noise, including seismic and volcanic activity in the north and tropical Pacific and the north Atlantic using the U.S. Navy's Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) and moored autonomous hydrophones. The most recent volcanic seismicity was detected on Gorda Ridge on April 3, 2001.

 


Chemical Oceanography

Description
Monitors the impact of hydrothermal systems on the chemistry of the ocean.

 


Geology/Geophysics

Description
Researches the volcanic and tectonic processes that influence the locations, temporal variability, and intensity of hydrothermal venting along the mid-ocean ridge system.

 


Hydrothermal Plume Studies

Description
Investigates the distribution and evolution of hydrothermal plumes and hydrothermal venting systems.

 


Modeling

Description
Develops analytical and numerical models to study physical, chemical, and sedimentological processes in hydrothermal regions.

 


Physical Oceanography

Description
Studies megaplumes and the circulation of hydrothermal vent fluids.

 


New Millennium Observatory (NEMO)

Description
The NEMO Project is a long-term observation of the biology, chemistry and geology of an active volcanic portion of the mid-ocean ridge. Remotely operated vehicles, sea-floor instruments and an on-site camera record data and observations 1,500 meters below the surface on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, 250 miles off the coast of Oregon and Washington.

 

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