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NeMO at Axial

The robust magma supply at Axial Volcano coupled with evidence of extensive hydrothermal venting and young lavas in its summit caldera encouraged the NOAA Vents Program to begin studying this portion of the Juan de Fuca Ridge in the early 1980s. The NeMO program officially began in 1996 when monitoring activity was increased with the placement of additional instruments in the caldera. These included strings of recorders to measure water column temperature and arrays of instruments to measure vertical and horizontal ground movements that would be expected during major volcanic events. All of these instruments were in place when Axial Volcano erupted in January 1998.

During the 1998 eruption lava poured from fissures along 9 km of the upper south rift zone. One of the monitoring instruments on the seafloor (the "rumbleometer") was partly overrun and trapped by the flowing lava. Vent areas seen by towed camera and remote vehicles in 1996-97 in the Marker 33 area were completely covered by this lava. However, new vents emerged through the new lava flow, spewing forth microbial "snowstorms", such as at "the Pit" site. A diverse and expanding host of life forms began to quickly colonize the new vents on the fresh lava surface. High-temperature vent sites in the surrounding area, such as ASHES, CASM, and Castle, were rejuvinated.

In the summer of 1998, NOAA launched the first of an ongoing series of oceanographic research cruises to the area to explore the eruption site. This multi-year effort to monitor the evolution of the volcanic, geochemical, and biological systems in the eruption area is named the New Millenium Observatory (NeMO). The NeMO also includes a real-time communication system called NeMO Net that allows scientists in the lab to interact with instruments on the seafloor. This is a breakthrough in ocean engineering which utilizes an acoustic modem to relay data from seafloor instruments up to a moored sea-surface buoy, which in turn sends the data to NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Lab via satellite. Annual visits to Axial Volcano send back daily updates from sea, allowing anyone to follow the progress of NeMO scientists from the NeMO web site. Curriculum for middle- and high-school teachers has also been developed based on NeMO research results.

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Related video clips:
Rumbleometer rescue | Marker 33 over time | Snowblower vent at the Pit site

Related Virtual Sites:
Marker 33 | Rumbleometer | The Pit | ASHES | CASM | Castle

Other NeMO-related concepts:
NeMO at Axial | the 1998 eruption | the rumbleometer story | lava flow animation
Animal Gallery | chemosynthesis | biological colonization of new lava

Mid-ocean ridges | seafloor spreading | seamounts & hot spots | calderas | Axial volcano
Hydrothermal vents | fluid paths | focused vents | diffuse vents | sulfide | anhydrite
Lava morphology | sheets | pillows | lava contacts | skylights | pillars | the 1998 flow

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