Expedition Overview

From April 7 - May 1, as part of the Luʻuaeaahikiikekumu - Ancient Seamounts of Liliʻuokalani Ridge expedition on Ocean Exploration Trust (OET)’s Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, a team of researchers will explore seamounts of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to provide baseline information about the mineral resource potential of the seamounts and the animals and microbes that live on them in order to inform management and conservation of the area.

The expedition marks the 2022 return of E/V Nautilus to the monument, building on the accomplishments of the 2021 Luʻuaeaahikiikalipolipo expedition, during which the area was mapped. This return trip will be the first time the Liliʻuokalani Ridge Seamounts are explored using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Dives will be streamed live on the Nautilus Live website.

During the expedition, scientists will use OET’s ROV Hercules to gather samples to determine the geologic origin and age of the seamounts in order to build a better understanding of the formation of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Visual surveys will help scientists characterize the diversity and extent of coral and sponge communities commonly found on seamounts of these depths throughout Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

As part of this collaborative expedition series, NOAA Ocean Exploration through its federal funding opportunity has provided support to a team of researchers to study the microbial communities residing on and within the thick ferromanganese crusts found on exposed rock surfaces of the seamounts. While there is interest in these crusts for the critical minerals they may contain, little is known about how the characteristics of the crusts vary from region to region across ocean basins or the microorganisms that live on and within them. Work from this component of the expedition will result in important baseline information regarding the mineral resource potential as well as the parallel living resources of these seamounts and will be used to inform their sustainable use and conservation.

The dramatic seamount landscapes seen during Ocean Exploration Trust’s 2021 Luʻuaeaahikiikapapakū - Ancient Volcanoes in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument expedition show evidence of past volcanic activity everywhere scientists looked. This cave might have been full of gasses when the lava cooled and now, millions of years later, it is a perfect grotto for these coral colonies. Image courtesy of the Ocean Exploration Trust, NOAA.
The dramatic seamount landscapes seen during Ocean Exploration Trust’s 2021 Luʻuaeaahikiikapapakū - Ancient Volcanoes in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument expedition show evidence of past volcanic activity everywhere scientists looked. This cave might have been full of gasses when the lava cooled and now, millions of years later, it is a perfect grotto for these coral colonies. Image courtesy of the Ocean Exploration Trust, NOAA. Download largest version (jpg, 430 KB).
Ocean Exploration Trust’s remotely operated vehicle Hercules explores a series of crevasses during the 2021 Luʻuaeaahikiikapapakū - Ancient Volcanoes in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument expedition. These crevasses may have formed when thick flows of lava cooled and contracted. Image courtesy of the Ocean Exploration Trust, NOAA.
Ocean Exploration Trust’s remotely operated vehicle Hercules explores a series of crevasses during the 2021 Luʻuaeaahikiikapapakū - Ancient Volcanoes in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument expedition. These crevasses may have formed when thick flows of lava cooled and contracted. Image courtesy of the Ocean Exploration Trust, NOAA. Download largest version (jpg, 274 KB).

Operations

Overview of the planned sites for the Luʻuaeaahikiikekumu - Ancient Seamounts of Liliʻuokalani Ridge expedition (NA138) within and outside the boundary of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) (indicated by the yellow line) , showing the high-resolution bathymetry data collected during a 2021 expedition (NA133) . Yellow stars indicate potential dive sites on guyot features within the monument; yellow triangles indicate conical-type seamounts within the monument, and pink triangles indicate conical-type seamounts outside of the PMNM boundary that are of high interest for understanding the origin of the two “forks” of the Liliʻuokalani Ridge. Map courtesy of Ocean Exploration Trust.
Overview of the planned sites for the Luʻuaeaahikiikekumu - Ancient Seamounts of Liliʻuokalani Ridge expedition (NA138) within and outside the boundary of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) (indicated by the yellow line) , showing the high-resolution bathymetry data collected during a 2021 expedition (NA133) . Yellow stars indicate potential dive sites on guyot features within the monument; yellow triangles indicate conical-type seamounts within the monument, and pink triangles indicate conical-type seamounts outside of the PMNM boundary that are of high interest for understanding the origin of the two “forks” of the Liliʻuokalani Ridge. Map courtesy of Ocean Exploration Trust. Download largest version (jpg, 378 KB).

Education Themes

Education theme pages provide the best of what the NOAA Ocean Exploration website has to offer to support your classroom during this expedition. On each theme page, you will find links to expedition features, lessons, multimedia, career information, and associated past expeditions.

Education Resources

Bring the excitement of deep-sea exploration LIVE to your classroom, science center, museum, aquarium, or community event. Live ship-to-shore interactions with E/V Nautilus and the team of Luʻuaeaahikiikekumu allow students to engage in a unique two-way, live Q&A with the educators, scientists, and engineers of the Corps of Exploration. Live interactions are available free to classroom and community events audiences. All live interactions are pre-scheduled to match your schedule.

Ship-to-shore interactions are conducted using Zoom or Google Meet and last 20 - 30 minutes with time for an expedition update and audience-led Q&A about careers, discoveries, or the exploration process.

Schedule a program in English or in 'Ōlelo Hawaiʻi!

This expedition on the Ocean Exploration Trust’s Exploration Vessel Nautilus is a collaborative project funded by NOAA Ocean Exploration through the NOAA Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute, with additional support from NOAA’s Office of Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA Ocean Exploration’s Ocean Exploration Fiscal Year 2021 Funding Opportunity, and the COBRA Master Class partnership with the National Science Foundation.