Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013

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

    July 8 - August 17, 201  |  By Kelley Elliott, Brian Kennedy, Andrea Quattrini, Amanda Demopoulos, and Tim Shank

    NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer conducts operations in the Gulf of Mexico. During July and August 2013, Okeanos Explorer will conduct two telepresence-enabled ocean exploration cruises as part of the Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition.

    From July to August 2013, 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 along the Northeast U.S. Canyons and at Mytilus Seamount, located within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.

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  • Mysteries of the Deep: Exploring Canyons Along the Atlantic Margin

    By Amanda Demopoulos

    A species of rockling (Family Lotidae) nestles within beds of chemosynthetic mussels (Bathymodiolus).
    Often multiple species of invertebrates are found co-occurring on rock ledges and canyon walls. Here a brisingid sea star, an octopus, bivalves, and several individuals of the cup coral, Desmophyllum, are found in close proximity to one another.

    Submarine canyons are found throughout the world, representing complex seafloor features that link the upper continental shelf to the abyssal plain. They punctuate the margin by incising the shelf, creating scenic seascapes reminiscent of their terrestrial counterparts.

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  • Partnerships Help NOAA’s Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program Inform Management Decisions to Protect Deep-Sea Coral Habitats

    By Martha Nizinski

    A diverse assemblage of corals and sponges, including yellow sponges (lower left) and colonial and solitary scleractinian (stony) corals (center of photo), observed on the western side of Munson Canyon (1,037-1,266 meters).

    NOAA is the primary federal agency mandated to conserve and manage the nation’s marine resources, including ecosystems containing deep-sea corals and sponges. As our understanding of the special nature of deep-sea resources has grown, so has the need to prioritize research activities and management to ensure that sufficient action is taken to conserve these resources for future generations.

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  • U.S. Geological Survey Hazards Interests in the Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013

    By Jason Chaytor, Uri ten Brink, and Daniel Brothers

    TowCam image of part of the landslide scarp from which the above material was dislodged.
    TowCam image of debris material that has been dislodged from a submarine landslide scarp just out of the frame.

    Since 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey, with support from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has been working to understand the potential causes and consequences of tsunamis along the U.S. east coast and their probability of occurrence. The primary focus of this work has been to identify and characterize submarine landslides present along the continental slope between Maine and Florida and subsequently evaluate the role of these submarine landslides in tsunami generation.

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  • Exploration of Cold Seeps on the North Atlantic Continental Margin

    By Taylor Heyl

    Methane bubbles flow in small streams out of the sediment on an area of seafloor offshore Virginia north of Washington Canyon.

    Canyons along the continental shelf and slope off the northeastern U.S. remain little explored but the topography, currents, and sedimentation in and around these submarine canyons support complex systems including chemosynthetic ecosystems in the form of cold seeps. Cold seeps are patchily distributed, ephemeral environments that occur most frequently along tectonically active and passive continental margins from intertidal to hadal depths, in areas of the seafloor where hydrogen sulfide, methane, highly saline water, and other hydrocarbon-rich fluids escape into the water column.

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