2017 Laulima O Ka Moana: Exploring Deep Monument Waters Around Johnston Atoll

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 7 - August 2, 2017  |  By Kelley Elliott, Christopher Kelley, Christopher Mah, and Mashkoor Malik

    Map showing the general cruise plan for the Johnston Atoll exploration portion of the expedition.

    From July 7 to August 2, 2017, NOAA and partners will conduct a telepresence-enabled ocean exploration expedition on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to collect critical baseline information about unknown and poorly known deepwater areas near Johnston Atoll. Like previous expeditions, NOAA will work with the scientific and resource management communities to characterize these areas through telepresence-based exploration. Operations will use the ship’s deepwater mapping systems, NOAA’s dual-bodied 6,000-meter remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer (D2) and Seirios, as well as a high-bandwidth satellite connection for real-time ship-to-shore communications.

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  • A Sampler of the Many Intriguing Biological Questions About the Johnston Atoll Monument Unit

    By Christopher Mah

    Hyporthodus quernus, a commercially harvested grouper that is only found at Johnston and the Hawaiian Archipelago.

    This NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer expedition to the Johnston Atoll Unit of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument will potentially provide information relevant to a number of interesting biological questions that are currently being asked by both shallow water and deepwater researchers working in this area of the Pacific. Johnston Atoll is located approximately 700 miles southwest of the Hawaiian Islands. Its proximity begs a series of important questions, outlined in this essay.

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  • A Brief Primer on the Geology of Johnston Atoll

    By Jasper Konter

    Two guyots just south of Johnston Atoll in the monument that have cone features on their summits.

    The central Pacific Ocean basin contains only a few islands, and they are spaced apart over large distances. These islands generally were built as volcanoes on the Pacific Ocean floor, growing from three miles deep to the ocean surface or further. Some of these islands are geologically young, such as the Hawaiian Islands, and include features such as volcanic craters and cones.

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  • The Intriguing Seamounts Around Johnston Atoll: Flat-topped Oases That Many Deep-sea Animals Call Home

    By Christopher Kelley

    Conical seamount (left) and guyot (right), showing the difference in the summit morphology.

    Seamounts are volcanic constructs that protrude from the expansive and relatively monotonous abyssal seafloor. These oases in the deep can have a variety of shapes depending on what happened while they were forming, and this is particularly true of those found inside the Johnston Atoll Unit of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.

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  • Pacific Islands Marine National Monument Management: The History of Johnston Atoll

    By Heidi Hirsh

    Nuclear-armed Thor missile explodes and burns on the launch pad at Johnston Island during the failed 'Bluegill Prime' nuclear test, July 25, 1962.
    Johnston Island Launch Emplacement One (LE1) after a Thor missile launch failure and explosion contaminated the island with Plutonium during the Operation Bluegill Prime nuclear test, July, 1962.

    NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer is returning to the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument to explore what lies in the deepwater ecosystems at Johnston Atoll. Scientists will conduct daily remotely operated vehicle operations at depths between 250 and 6,000 meters, as well as produce bathymetric and water column maps using the ship’s sonar systems. But what lies above the deep water? What is the history of Johnston Atoll and how did it get its name?

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  • Deep-sea Mineral Deposits in the Hawaiian and Johnston Island Exclusive Economic Zone

    By Charles Morgan

    Known occurrences of marine ferromanganese deposits worldwide, obtained from the International Seabed Authority Central Data Repository.

    The Hawaiian and Johnston Island Exclusive Economic Zone seabed areas host significant deep-sea mineral deposits called ferromanganese crusts. These deposits are enriched in manganese, cobalt, and other metals of commercial interest, including rare earths. Rare earths make possible the high-tech world that we live in today, allowing for everything from miniaturization of electronics to green energy; even medical technologies and essential telecommunications. With increasing demand for high-tech devices, global commercial exploration of deep-sea minerals is accelerating.

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