National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1999

The 1996 Gorda Ridge event detection and response activities: Historical perspective and future implications

Cowen, J.P., and E.T. Baker

Deep-Sea Res. Pt. II, 45(12), 2503–2511, doi: 10.1016/S0967-0645(98)00080-0 (1998)

Ridge axis magmatic events, including diking and eruptive phases, are episodic perturbations that trigger a sequence of interrelated and rapidly evolving geophysical, chemical and biological processes associated with the formation of ocean crust. Access to the US Navy?s SOund SUrveillance System (SOSUS) in 1993 via PMEL-NOAA?s T-Phase Monitoring system launched the scientific community from mere reliance on serendipitous encounters of magmatic events to their remote detection at the initiation of an event?s distinctive seismic signature and subsequent "directed" rapid and follow-up field responses. This capability offers exceptional opportunities to observe and quantify covariation among related seismic and hydrothermal processes and to provide basic new constraints on maturing models of submarine volcano-hydrothermal systems. The detection of a seismic swarm on the northern Gorda Ridge on 28 February 1996 prompted a multi-cruise response to investigate any new lava flows and event- and chronic-style hydrothermal discharge associated with suspected dike intrusion and eruptive activity. The results of these studies are described in the 12 papers composing this special issue on the detection of and response to mid-ocean ridge magmatic events. The successes and limitations of the Gorda Ridge event response series as well as previous event response efforts clearly demonstrate the need for greater pre-event coordination and preparation.

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