Submarine Ring of Fire 2012: Northeast Lau Basin: Mission Logs

Mission Logs

Follow along as participants in the cruise provide updates and reflections on their experiences, the science, the technology, and other elements of the expedition.

  • Mission Summary

    By Joe Resing an Bob Embley

    Given the complexity of the logistics involved in the Submarine Ring of Fire 2012 expedition, an apt summary of the cruise is “Whatever could go wrong didn’t go wrong”. Twelve dives at nine sites were successfully made, with 98.5 hours of bottom time and 164 samples for geology, chemistry, biology and microbiology.

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  • From Samoa and the Northeast Lau Basin, Tofa and Goodbye

    September 26, 2012  |  By Joe Resing

    Our planet still holds many amazing phenomena that remain to be visited, discovered and understood. In particular, the deep ocean is hidden from view, and its unexplored places remain a major challenge to humankind.

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  • Piloting the ROV, A New Experience in Ocean Exploration

    September 25, 2012  |  By Greg Engemann and Christian Reuter

    Seeing the process of planning the dive location, waiting for the ship to navigate to the site, watching the ROV enter the water and explore the seafloor, and then, at the end of that day, be able to hold a crab from 1500 or so metres depth was brilliant from start to finish.

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  • In Keeping with Tradition

    September 24, 2012  |  By Paula Keener and Akapei Vailea

    As the exploration team on the Submarine Ring of Fire Northeast Lau Basin 2012 Expedition, we follow several centuries later in the footsteps of the early explorers of this region, with a focus on submarine volcanoes and associated hydrothermal vents deep on the ocean floor.

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  • Mata Tolu, King of the Northern Mata Group

    September 23, 2012  |  By Ken Rubin

    Mata Tolu didn’t disappoint, showing us an array of beautiful features during our visit. After crossing young volcanic landforms on the steep south face beneath the summit, we reached the top and discovered an active hydrothermal system surrounded by a large area of currently inactive chimneys.

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  • A Comparison between Mata Fitu and Niua North

    September 22, 2012  |  By Joe Resing

    Mata Fitu exhibited a stunning display of high temperature hydrothermal activity, with pagoda-shaped chimneys everywhere. Niua North, on the other hand, had no chimneys. Instead it had jets of sulfur shooting out from many holes in the sediment-covered seafloor.

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  • Seamount Eruptions: Windows to the Development of Hydrothermal Vent Biological Communities

    September 21, 2012  |  By Timothy Shank

    Vent systems in the deep sea have a birth, life, and death, in which vents are often created through volcanic activity and crustal cracking and often their cessation brought about by subsurface plumbing changes or through cooling of their heat source or magma chamber.

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  • Needles and Haystacks

    September 20, 2012  |  By Edward T. Baker and Bill Chadwick

    Finding the bubbling crater of a terrestrial volcano poses no problem: look for the smoke using a satellite or aircraft or even your pickup truck. Exploration of submarine volcanoes under the opaque ocean is far more challenging.

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  • The MARUM Remotely Operated Vehicle QUEST 4000

    September 19, 2012  |  By Volker Ratmeyer and Gerold Wefer

    The cable-controlled ROV QUEST can dive down to 4000 meters and is equipped with a suite of sensors, such as acoustic sonar and a CTD. Various high-resolution cameras document the deep-sea environment with exceptional high quality and precision.

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  • New Black Smokers Discovered at Niua South Volcano

    September 18, 2012  |  By Bill Chadwick

    The ROV sampled vent fluids and gases coming out of the chimneys as well as a few pieces of the chimneys. Animals living at the vent included two species of shrimp, two species of snails, limpets, scaleworms, crabs, squat lobsters, eelpouts, and barnacles. We had discovered yet another spectacular oasis in the deep sea.

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  • What’s Been Happening on West Mata?

    September 17, 2012  |  By Bob Embley

    A hydrophone and other instruments placed on the vertical mooring (the top has a large float to hold it vertical) have been recording for more than two years, and we hope these recordings contain critical new information about the nearby submarine volcano, West Mata.

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  • Hunting the Plume at Mata Ua

    September 16, 2012  |  By Richard Arculus

    Submarine exploration over the past decade has shown the Northeast Lau Basin to be one of the most intensively active regions on the surface of the Earth, with rapid crustal extension, numerous volcanic vents of both focused- and rift-like character, and multiple hydrothermal sources.

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  • Chemistry and Ecology at Volcano O

    September 15, 2012  |  By David Butterfield

    Volcano O is the most captivating feature on a map of the Northeast Lau Basin, sitting enigmatically between the volcanic arc and the backarc NE Lau spreading center. At 15 km across and nearly perfectly circular, it certainly catches the eye. Our dive at Volcano O focused on the central cone near the summit, which is interpreted to be the site of the most recent volcanism.

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  • Crossing the Cone at Volcano O

    September 14, 2012  |  By Richard Arculus

    The R/V Roger Revelle transited northwards to one of the most remarkable volcanic structures on Earth: a giant near-circular caldera ~15 km in diameter, colloquially known as “Volcano O“, with a floor at a depth of about 2000m, and a young cone in the southeast sector rising 730m above the floor to a summit at 1270m depth below sea level.

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  • Hybrid Backarc Volcanoes Yield Unique Discoveries

    September 13, 2012  |  By Kevin Rubin and Paula Keener

    Shortly after arriving on the seafloor at a depth of 975 meters this morning, the cameras mounted on MARUM’s Quest 4000 revealed small lava towers approximately 5-10 m in height with steep walls rising from the seafloor at Fonualei Rift.

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  • Our Work Has Just Begun

    September 12, 2012  |  By Brad Tebo and Rick Davis

    Our Quest 4000 dive (Q322) to find iron- and manganese-oxidizing microbial mats proved to be a great success. From previous cruises and surveys we had a pretty good navigational fix on where to find these mats, and within about an hour of the ROV reaching the bottom we had discovered what we were looking for.

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  • Bacterial Mats and More at Vai Lili

    September 11, 2012  |  By Paula Keener

    The R/V Roger Revelle arrived at the first exploration target, Vai Lili, in the early morning hours of September 11, 2012, with the science team looking forward to exploring bacterial mats and collecting samples from hydrothermal vents at this vent field located on the central Valu Fa Ridge in the Lau Basin.

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  • In Transit to Vai Lili

    September 10, 2012  |  By Paula Keener

    Holothuroids, also called sea cucumbers, are an unusual class of the unusual phylum Echinodermata, which literally means animals with spiny skins.

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  • On Departing Suva, Fiji

    September 9, 2012  |  By Paula Keener

    A total of 35 scientists and 21 crew from 15 organizations representing the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Germany departed Suva, Fiji today...

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