National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2024

Spotlight: The PMEL Earth-Ocean Interactions (EOI) program – beyond vents

Butterfield, D.A., S. Walker, T. Baumberger, J. Beeson, J.A. Resing, S.G. Merle, A. Antriasian, K. Roe, G.-S. Lu, and P. Barrett

Oceanography, 36(2–3), 206–211, doi: 10.5670/oceanog.2023.229, View open access article online at Oceanography (external link) (2023)

As previously summarized by Hammond et al. (2015), from 1983 to 2013, the NOAA Vents program conducted systematic and multidisciplinary exploration, discovery, and research related to hydrothermal vents, submarine volcanic eruptions, and associated ocean physical, chemical, and biological processes. In 2014, Vents divided into two programs, Earth-Ocean Interactions (EOI) and Acoustics, and considered a broader range of questions about how seafloor and subseafloor processes contribute to ocean health, biogeochemical cycles, ecosystem diversity, and climate change. Here, we highlight major accomplishments since 2014, including deep-sea technologies that EOI, Vents, and Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) Engineering have developed to advance marine science. EOI research is driven by a need for better observational data on issues of global importance, including the role of continental margin seeps in the global methane/carbon cycle, benthic ecology, and fisheries habitat; the role of hydrothermal systems in global biogeochemical cycles, including carbon dioxide removal; the potential impact of deep-sea mining of metal sulfides on ecosystem services provided by hydrothermal vents; and how hydrothermal iron functions as an essential nutrient. NOAA Ocean Exploration, the Schmidt Ocean Institute, the Ocean Exploration Trust, and the National Science Foundation have supported and collaborated in this work. Global exploration of the deep sea with the purpose of understanding global ocean processes remains a cornerstone of EOI science.

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