Windows to the Deep 2018: Exploration of the Southeast U.S. Continental Margin

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.

Download the expedition fact sheet (pdf, 2.1 MB).

  • Mission Plan

    By Kasey Cantwell, Cheryl Morrison, and Leslie Sautter

    The remotely operated vehicle <em>Deep Discoverer</em> (D2) will be used to image unexplored areas of the Blake Plateau, Blake Ridge, Blake Escarpment, submarine canyons offshore of North Carolina, submerged cultural heritage sites, areas predicted to be suitable habitat for deep-sea corals and sponges, inter-canyon areas, and gas seeps.

    From May 22 through July 2, 2018, NOAA and partners will conduct a two-part, telepresence-enabled ocean exploration expedition on NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to collect critical baseline information about unknown and poorly understood deepwater areas of the Southeastern United States. During the Windows to the Deep 2018: Exploration of the Southeast U.S. Continental Margin expedition, our at-sea and shore-based science teams will work together to map the seafloor and make some of the first deepwater observations in these areas.

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  • Telepresence Mapping of the Southeast U.S. Continental Margin

    By Elizabeth “Meme” Lobecker

    Map of bathymetry data collected during the first-part of the two-part Windows to the Deep 2018: Exploration of the Southeast U.S. Continental Margin expedition.

    From May 22 - June 6, 2018, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer conducted mapping operations 24 hours per day using the ship's state-of-the-art suite of sonars focused on mapping the seafloor, the water column, and the sub-seafloor. This was the first part of the two-part Windows to the Deep 2018: Exploration of the Southeast U.S. Continental Margin expedition intended to increase our understanding of the deep-sea environment along the southeast United States.

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  • An Update on Cold Seeps in the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean

    By Cheryl Morrison

    Images of bubble plumes from gaseous seeps collected using water column acoustic reflectivity observations from NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Canyons Expedition.

    During the Windows to the Deep 2018: Exploration of the Southeast U.S. Continental Margin expedition, the mission team plans to visit two potential cold seep sites in or near canyons off the North Carolina coast. Cold seeps occur where highly saline and hydrocarbon-rich fluids, such as methane and sulfides, escape from the seafloor at close to ambient temperatures.

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  • The Unique Southeast U.S. Continental Margin

    By Leslie Sautter

    Blake Plateau

    During the Windows to the Deep 2018: Exploration of the Southeast U.S. Continental Margin expedition, we will explore a variety of seafloor habitats. Many of these habitats are present as a result of the seabed’s geology, which ranges from vast, undulating expanses of sand, to nearly vertical rocks. To understand the foundation of the sites we’ll visit, let’s first look at the configuration of the entire region off the coast from North Carolina to Florida, referred to as the Southeast U.S. Continental Margin.

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

    By Amanda Demopoulos, Benthic Research Ecologist, U.S. Geological Survey

    The steep ledges of Norfolk Canyon proved to be home to a large diversity of life.

    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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  • NOAA’s Southeast Deep Coral Initiative (SEDCI): Exploring Deep-Sea Coral Ecosystems Off the Southeast United States

    By Daniel Wagner

    A dense community of black corals, octocorals, and crinoids at 122 meters (400 feet) depth on Elvers Bank in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.

    In 2016, NOAA launched a new four-year initiative to study deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems across the Southeast United States, a region that includes the U.S. federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic Bight, and Caribbean Sea. This multidisciplinary effort, known as the Southeast Deep Coral Initiative (SEDCI), is led by a NOAA team from multiple line offices that work in close collaboration with partners from federal and academic institutions. Funding for SEDCI activities is provided primarily by NOAA through the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program.

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