PMEL Earth-Ocean Interactions Program logo Earth-Ocean Interactions Program link Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Research Themes

Research Sites:
Click map to go to Expeditions.

The NOAA/PMEL Vents Program has re-organized into two separate focused programs:
Earth-Ocean Interactions and Acoustics.

Sully Vent at Endeavour NE PacificEarth-Ocean Interactions


Discovering, measuring, understanding, and predicting ecological impacts of natural chemical, biological, and geological processes between the solid Earth and Ocean.


The Earth-Ocean Interactions Program contributes to NOAA’s objective of achieving a holistic understanding of marine ecosystems by exploration and research on hydrothermal vents, their impacts on the global ocean, and their unique chemosynthetic biological communities. This includes ecosystem characterization, resource assessment, environmental observation, and technology development.


Recent Highlights:

pre-eruption 3D map of Sarigan

Eruption at South Sarigan:


A 2014 Oceanography article describes the site of an enigmatic 2010 submarine eruption of a shallow (<200 m) seamount in the Mariana arc. Comparison of pre- (2002) and post- (2013) eruption bathymetric surveys reveals a new 400m diameter crater at the eruption site. This new information will help to better evaluate the hazard potential of submarine eruptions. The paper can be downloaded at the Oceanography website.

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coral reef at MaugMaug Island


An expedition on the NOAA ship Hi’ialakai, May 11-20, 2014, was focused on Maug island in the northern Marianas, which is a flooded caldera where volcanic CO2 vents directly into a shallow coral reef ecosystem. Preliminary results show that gradients in pH are created around the CO2 vents and they have a strong impact on the health and distribution of coral species around the vents.

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3D view of Axial SeamountAxial Seamount is re-inflating


PMEL scientists on a September 2013 expedition to Axial Seamount documented that the center of the volcano’s caldera has reinflated over 1.5 meters (>5 feet) since its last eruption in April 2011, more than was expected. This means that the volcano has already recovered 65% of the -2.4 meters that it deflated in 2011, and that it could be ready to erupt again within just a few more years, if this rate of inflation continues.


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