Feature Publication Archive
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Axial Seamount, 300 miles off the coast of Oregon and 0.7 miles beneath the ocean’s surface, is situated along a mid-ocean ridge where two ocean plates are moving apart. It is the most active submarine volcano in the northeast Pacific Ocean, with documented eruptions in 1998, 2011, and most recently, in 2015. Its activity has been monitored for two decades, since the establishment of the NeMO Seafloor Observatory in 1996, and more recently the launch of the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative Cabled Array, which provides state-of-the-art monitoring capability with... more »
A paper just published in Nature Geoscience shows a newly recognized role for hydrothermal vents in the global carbon cycle. This new research, by PMEL/JISAO researcher David Butterfield and colleagues, shows that hydrothermal vents may act as a recycling and decomposition system for dissolved organic carbon (DOC), an important constituent of the global carbon pool. The scientists found that high temperatures, like those found at hydrothermal vents, can effectively remove DOC not broken down by other processes, like microbial or sedimentary degradation. The implication for the... more »
Resing, J. A., P. N. Sedwick, et al. (2015). "Basin-scale transport of hydrothermal dissolved metals across the South Pacific Ocean." Nature 523(7559): 200-203, doi:10.1038/nature14577
The results of a recent NSF-funded U.S. GEOTRACES research expedition were published in the latest issue of Nature. In this study, lead author and NOAA/PMEL and University of Washington/JISAO scientist Joseph Resing and colleagues unequivocally demonstrate the importance of submarine hot springs (hydrothermal vents) as a source of iron to the ocean interior. Iron is a trace nutrient that is critical to primary production in the ocean. Until recently, the scientific... more »
Lupton, J., K.H. Rubin, R. Arculus, M. Lilley, D. Butterfield, J. Resing, E. Baker, and R. Embley (2015): Helium isotope, C/3He, and Ba-Nb-Ti signatures in the northern Lau Basin: Distinguishing arc, back-arc, and hotspot affinities. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 16(4), 1133–1155, doi: 10.1002/2014GC005625.
The northern Lau Basin hosts a complicated pattern of volcanism, including Tofua Arc volcanoes, several back-arc spreading centers, and individual ‘‘rear-arc’’ volcanoes not associated with these structures. Elevated 3He/4He ratios in lavas of the NW Lau Spreading Center suggest the influence of a mantle plume, possibly from Samoa. We show that lavas from mid-ocean ridges, volcanic arcs, and hotspots occupy distinct, nonoverlapping fields in a 3He/4He versus C/3He plot. Applied to the northern Lau Basin, this approach shows that most of Lau back-arc spreading systems have mid-ocean ridge... more »
Hammond, S.R., R.W. Embley, and E.T. Baker. 2015. The NOAA Vents Program 1983 to 2013: Thirty years of ocean exploration and research. Oceanography 28(1):160–173, http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2015.17.
Two seminal advances in the late 1970s in science and technology spurred the establishment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Vents Program: the unexpected discovery of seafloor vents and chemosynthetic ecosystems on the Galápagos Spreading Center (GSC), and civilian access to a previously classified multibeam mapping sonar system. A small team of NOAA scientists immediately embarked on an effort to apply the new mapping technology to the discovery of vents, animal communities, and polymetallic sulfide deposits on spreading ridges in the Northeast Pacific Ocean.... more »