Gulf of Mexico 2012

Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer conducts operations in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Kelley Elliott
Mashkoor Malik
Jeremy Potter

Expedition Coordinators
NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

From March to April 2012, 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 northern Gulf of Mexico. The 56-day expedition is divided into three 'legs.'

Through discussions and information stemming from the May 2011 Atlantic Basin Workshop, Fall 2011 Gulf of Mexico mapping expedition,  and Leg I of the 2012 Gulf of Mexico expedition, NOAA and the broader science community have identified a number of exciting targets to explore during Legs II and III. In the coming weeks, we expect to explore cold seeps, deep coral communities, undersea canyons, shipwrecks – and perhaps even mud volcanos and brine pools.

The expedition also marks the return of the Institute for Exploration’s Little Hercules remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and NOAA’s Seirios camera sled and lighting platform to the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer.

When these systems are deployed from the ship, we will be able to provide scientists and the audiences onshore with real-time video footage from deepwater areas in important, yet largely unknown, U.S. waters.

Watch LIVE as scientists explore the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

You can access the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition News feed here: NOAA RSS 2.0 Feed

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

April 30 Log
April 30 Log Students from two maritime academies in high schools from Houston, Texas, joined the regional winners of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl from a third Houston high school, to tour NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, America’s ship for ocean exploration, while the ship was docked in Galveston.

April 29 Log
April 29 Log The third and final cruise of the Okeanos Explorer’s 2012 Gulf of Mexico Expedition had three primary objectives.

April 24 Log
April 24 Log During our exploration we have encountered deep-sea holothuroids, also known as “sea cucumbers,” which can manage this buoyancy task remarkably well. So well that we have to ask: How do they do it?

April 23 Log
April 23 Log Morale is just as important as every other facet of a successful journey on board the Okeanos Explorer; it is an assigned collateral duty that is an essential part of the seafaring way of life.

April 22 Log
April 22 Log On Friday, the Okeanos Explorer and  her tandem remotely operated vehicles (ROV), Little Hercules and Seirios, dove on a never before seen area of the seafloor in Ewing Bank block 915 (EW915), 130 miles south of New Orleans.

April 21 Log
April 21 Log A famous quote attributed to Louis Pasteur translates as, "In the field of observation chance only favors the prepared mind."

April 20 Log
April 20 Log During yesterday's dive, we searched for natural hydrocarbon seeps — areas where oil and natural gas slowly leak out of the seafloor. This is an entirely natural phenomenon and an important characteristic of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

April 18 Log
April 18 Log Dive 06 of this expedition really began about seven months ago during what we call a water column mapping cruise on the Okeanos Explorer.

April 17 Log
April 17 Log As with most of the systems aboard the Okeanos Explorer, the video system and the video engineers that operate it play an important role in the ship’s mission of systematic ocean exploration.

April 15 Log
April 15 Log The third leg of the Okeanos Explorer Gulf of Mexico mission is operating in a part of the Gulf, the oldest sediments of which are part of the upward-moving Louann Formation.

April 14 Log
April 14 Log Ocean exploration is commonly thought of in spatial terms, e.g., the creation of maps of previously unobserved seafloor. However, it has an equally important temporal component which addresses how ocean processes change through time.

April 13 Log
April 13 Log VSAT stands for Very Small Aperture Terminal. VSATs are small Earth-based dish arrays ranging from 1.2 meters (four feet) to 3.8 meters (12.5 feet). The Okeanos Explorer dish is 3.7 meters.

April 12 Log
April 12 Log It’s 6 a.m. and the lights have come on.  Our two underwater vehicles, Little Herc and Seirios are being prepared for their “electronic wakeup.”

April 11 Log
April 11 Log Think of your last road trip. It is likely you pored over maps, plotted your journey (possibly even rerouted it), fueled up, (hopefully) gave the vehicle a check-up, buckled everyone in, and were on your way.

April 5 Log
April 5 Log Even two years following the Deepwater Horizon incident, determining the extent of exposure and types of impact to ecosystems in the deep Gulf of Mexico remains a high national priority.

April 4 Log
April 4 Log An interesting challenge was presented to the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) team last week: Develop a method to drop syntactic foam markers from Little Hercules to mark sites of interest for return dives.

April 2 Log
April 2 Log Working at sea has been both an incredible personal and professional experience for me. The Okeanos Explorer is filled with amazingly skilled and passionate people.

March 30 Log
March 30 Log Today’s dive, Dive 10, was on wreck VK0986. It is close to the mouth of the Mississippi River and we experienced strong currents and murky water.

March 28 Log
March 28 Log This has been quite an interesting expedition so far, not only because of what we're exploring here in the deep Gulf of Mexico, but also because of the way we're exploring it.

March 27 Log
March 27 Log As I logged on to the Okeanos Explorer links this morning, I could hardly control my excitement over today’s dive on a potential shipwreck site.

March 26 Log
March 26 Log Between the deep-sea bottom and the sunlit surface waters are the open waters of the deep pelagic environment.

March 24 Log
March 24 Log I have explored the depths of the ocean on a number of different ships with a variety of deep-sea vehicles, but I never done it from my desk.

March 23 Log
March 23 Log Early yesterday morning an electrical fire at a NOAA headquarters building caused havoc for a number of friends and colleagues in the Washington, DC, area.

March 22 Log
March 22 Log The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) went in the water at 0800 EDT (on schedule), and we eagerly awaited the discoveries ahead of us as the ROV descended to the seafloor.

March 21 Log
March 21 Log By 0730, we had already cancelled today's dive at our primary location on the Florida Escarpment.

Leg I Mission Summary
Leg I Mission Summary NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer began her second voyage of the year from Charleston, SC, on February 27, 2012, and arrived in the vicinity of DeSoto canyon on March 4 and commenced mapping of the canyon.


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