Voyage to the Ridge 2022
May 14 - August 18, 2022 [Expedition with livestreaming of dives starts June 16]
May through August 2022, NOAA and partners will conduct Voyage to the Ridge 2022, a series of three telepresence-enabled ocean exploration expeditions on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer that will include mapping operations and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives to collect baseline information about unexplored and poorly understood deepwater areas of the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and Azores Plateau.
Spanning the north-south length of the Atlantic Ocean and stretching an impressive 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles), the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is the longest mountain range in the world and one of the most prominent geological features on Earth. The majority of it sits underwater and thus much of it remains largely unexplored. With active tectonic spreading, the MAR is the site of frequent earthquakes. Spectacular hydrothermal vents may form where magma provides heat as it rises to the seafloor. These vents are known to support diverse chemosynthetic communities. However, little is known about life at these sites once vents go extinct, or what life lies beyond the vents, further away from the rift zone.
Voyage to the Ridge 2022 will seek to close some of these gaps and increase our understanding of the region’s geological context and past and future geohazards, the diversity and distribution of coral and sponge communities, and how populations of deep-sea species are related across this region and throughout the deepwater Atlantic basin.
The first Voyage to the Ridge 2022 expedition, from May 14 - June 7, will include mapping operations to collect acoustic data of seafloor and sub-seafloor geomorphology and water column habitats of the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The collection of high-resolution mapping data is a key element of every NOAA Ocean Exploration expedition on Okeanos Explorer and mapping data will be instrumental to planning subsequent ROV dives.
June 16 - July 13, we will conduct mapping operations and dives using our two-bodied ROV system to explore the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone, Mid-Atlantic Ridge (north of the Azores), and the Azores Plateau. And finally, from July 22 - August 18, ROV and mapping operations will be conducted, focusing on the Azores Plateau and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (south of the Azores).
ROV dives may span depths ranging from 250 to 6,000 meters (820 to 19,685 feet) deep. During dives, we expect to explore deep-sea coral and sponge habitats, potential hydrothermal vent and extinct polymetallic sulfide systems, fracture and rift zones, and the water column. Dives will be streamed daily during the second two expeditions, from approximately 6:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.
Detailed Overview (pdf, 2.2 MB)
The fact sheets below, developed by scientists and educators, demonstrate key concepts related to Voyage to the Ridge 2022 and are available in English and Portuguese.
Voyage to the Ridge 2022 will contribute to NOAA’s Atlantic Seafloor Partnership for Integrated Research and Exploration (ASPIRE) campaign, which builds on the momentum of past U.S. campaigns and international initiatives to support ecosystem-based management of marine resources and leverages international partnerships and is a major contribution to the Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation and the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance’s deep-sea mapping and exploration efforts.