INDEX 2010: “Indonesia-USA Deep-Sea Exploration of the Sangihe Talaud Region”

Background Information

The essays below will help you to understand the goals and objectives of the mission and provide additional context and information about the places being explored and the science, tools, and technologies being used.

  • Mission Plan

    By Jeremy Potter

    The <em>Little Hercules</em> remotely operated vehicle is a dual-body system capable of operating to depths of 4,000 meters.

    INDEX-SATAL 2010 will be the first in a series of joint Indonesia-U.S. expeditions to explore the ocean and help advance our knowledge, use, and protection of the ocean and its resources. This year’s joint expedition is staged from two ships: NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and the Indonesian research vessel, Baruna Jaya IV.

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  • Mission Partners

    These partners are all playing an active role working with NOAA to make the INDEX 2010: “Indonesia-USA Deep-Sea Exploration of the Sangihe Talaud Region” expedition a success.

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  • INDEX-SATAL: A U.S. and Indonesian Partnership to Explore Indonesia’s Seas

    By Steve Hammond and Wirasantosa Sugiarta

    INDEX-SATAL 2010 Co Principal Investigators Dr. Sugiarta and Dr. Steve Hammond shake hands after agreeing upon the planning area of operations for this summer's expedition.

    The Indonesia-USA Deep-Sea Exploration of the Sangihe Talaud Region (INDEX-SATAL 2010) expedition kicks off a new era of scientific cooperation between the United States and Indonesia. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia encouraged the joint expedition and it has been strongly supported by the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron Hume. The joint-expedition also advances the approach called for by President Obama in his landmark June 2009 speech at Cairo University.

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  • Little Hercules Remotely Operated Vehicle

    By Dave Lovalvo

    The <em>Okeanos Explorer</em> crew launches the vehicle during test dives off Hawaii.

    Little Hercules is a 4,000-meter depth rated remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with an impressive past and most promising future. “Little Herc”, as he is widely referred to, is just that – “little”. But as we all know, many good things come in small packages.

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  • Geology and Geological History of the Sangihe-Talaud Region

    By Patricia Fryer

    The northeastern region of Indonesia, just south of the Philippine islands, is made up of the islands of the Sangihe Arc on the west and the Talaud Islands ridge on the east. This is a geologically complex area of both ancient blocks of continental crust and young volcanic regions. The region has a long history of break-up of and collision between tectonic plates (blocks of the crust and upper mantle of the Earth).

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  • The Coral Triangle and Marine Biodiversity

    By Molly Timmers

    The Coral Triangle region is known for its biodiversity, as evidenced by the multitude of organisms living in this small section of House Reef in the Philippines.

    The Coral Triangle is the most diverse and biologically complex marine ecosystem on the planet. It spans across parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste. Covering 5.7 million square kilometers, this extraordinary expanse of ocean is almost equivalent in area to the lower 48 states.

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  • Biogeography of the INDEX-SATAL Region

    By Tim Shank

    Riftia tubeworms, mussels, and scavenging crabs found at a hydrothermal vent site at East Wall on the East Pacific Rise.

    In 1977, scientists investigating the seafloor along the Galápagos Rift made a discovery that shook the foundations of biology. They found oases of animals thriving in the sunless depths around hydrothermal vents. Instead of photosynthetic plants, chemosynthetic microbes comprise the base of the food chain at vents.

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  • Why Vent Microbes Matter

    By James F. Holden

    A black smoker chimney named ‘Boardwalk’ emitting 340°C (644°F) hydrothermal fluids in the northeastern Pacific Ocean at a depth of 2,200 meters (7,260 feet).

    When I was 11 years old, the biology taught in my school was shaken to its core by a strange new discovery on the bottom of the ocean: thousands of animals huddled around super hot fluids shooting from the seafloor. These sites were called ‘deep-sea hydrothermal vents’. What made this discovery so amazing was that these animals thrived far from any sunlight. You see, up to that point, we had been taught that all life ultimately relies on photosynthesis to form the base of the food web.

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  • Exploring the Seafloor through the Ocean Water Column

    By David Butterfield

    Sampling gas bubbles at an active volcanic vent on NW Rota-1 submarine volcano, Mariana Arc, March 2010.
    Bubble plume image captured with multibeam sonar on Kilo Moana, March 2010. The red base is the summit of NW Rota-1 volcano on the Mariana Arc.

    The ocean and seafloor around Indonesia are still largely unexplored and undoubtedly hold many surprises and scientific discoveries. Indonesian waters, a seafaring commercial crossroads for centuries, are also an important oceanic crossroads between the Pacific and Indian ocean basins, a place where oceanic water masses mix and oceanic plates collide. There are many biological questions that can be answered in this area, but there are also important geological and chemical issues here. What kind of hydrothermal systems exist here, and what is their impact on the local ecology? Are there significant mineral deposits forming?

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