Join us for the GALREX 2011: “Galápagos Rift Expedition 2011”. This unique expedition, to one of the most fascinating areas of the world’s ocean, will explore diverse deep sea habitats on seamounts and hydrothermal vent systems in the Galápagos region.

Join us for the GALREX 2011: “Galápagos Rift Expedition 2011”. This unique expedition, to one of the most fascinating areas of the world’s ocean, will explore diverse deep sea habitats on seamounts and hydrothermal vent systems in the Galápagos region. Click image for larger view and image credit.


Galápagos Rift Expedition 2011
“GALREX 2011”


Jeremy Potter
Expedition Coordinator
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

From June to July 2011, a team of scientists and technicians both at-sea and on shore will conduct exploratory investigations on the diversity and distribution of deep-sea habitats and marine life in the vicinity of the Galápagos Islands. The 50-day expedition is divided into two ‘legs’ and includes work in Ecuador, Costa Rica, and international waters.

Mapping and water column information collected during Leg I identified a number of exciting targets to explore with the Institute for Exploration’s Little Hercules ROV during Leg II. Between July 11 and July 28, we expect to explore seamounts, the oldest known vent fields, off-axis sulfide mounds, deep fracture zones, and newly-discovered vents.

The expedition also marks the debut of a new camera sled and lighting platform named Seirios. When deployed from the ship with the Little Hercules, we will be able to provide scientists and the audiences onshore with the very first video footage from a number of deepwater areas around the Galápagos.


You can access the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer Galapagos Rift Expedition 2011 News feed here: NOAA RSS 2.0 Feed



Updates & Logs
Click images or links below for detailed mission logs and updates.


Mission Summary
Mission Summary Results of the GALREX 2011 cruise indicate abundant and recent hydrothermal and volcanic activity on two adjacent tectonic ridge segments, spanning more than 200 km of spreading axis.

July 24 Log
July 24 Log Typical when exploring unknown areas of the deep-ocean, feelings of great anticipation that we would discover something that could fundamentally change the way we think about deep-ocean geology and biology flooded our thoughts.

July 22 Log
July 22 Log After spending barely a week reading textbooks and articles about plate tectonics, navigation systems, black smokers, white smokers, and the biological indicators that tip a researcher off that we are getting close to active hydrothermal venting, the dives started.

July 20 Log
July 20 Log As we approached the a strong signal in Seirios’ sonar in near darkness, the form of a towering hydrothermal sulfide spire appeared.


July 19 Log
July 19 Log The data the Multibeam EM302 system on board the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer collects consists of bathymetry and backscatter; both are valuable in understanding the seafloor structure.


July 18 Log
July 18 Log We know there are frequent eruptions along the Mid-Ocean Ridge but we can only put a time and date on the few that we’ve serendipitously come across in isolated areas of study.


July 17 Log
July 17 Log The science team decided to head southeast to explore a number of sites identified as having the anomalous temperature and light readings characteristic of active hydrothermal vents.


July 16 Log
July 16 Log The Conductivity Temperature and Depth sensor package (CTD) is one tool of exploration used by the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer (EX). The first time I used a CTD was aboard the Schooner Westward (Sea Education Association) when I was enrolled in a summer programthat taught marine science along with seamanship and sailing.

July 14 Log
July 14 Log This expedition’s inaugural dive was on the Paramount Seamounts, an underwater mountain with a summit less than 300m below the sea surface.


July 13 Log
July 13 Log Despite the great advice given from many in the office about what to expect as web coordinator,o one could have prepared me for the marathon first day of ROV operations.


July 11 Log
July 11 Log As the ship got closer and closer to a go/no-go departure decision. Technicians work stretched well into the early morning hours as they tried to repair the satellite antenna in the VSAT dome.


July 8 Log
July 8 Log If you had asked anyone in the office last year where the Okeanos Explorer would be this year, the immediate response would have likely been ‘Indonesia’.


Daily UpdatesDaily Updates Click here to read short daily summaries of the ship's activities, written by the Galápagos Rift Expedition Coordinator.