Dr. Donna Blackman. Photo by Memorie Yasuda, CalSpace/Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD.Introduction
November 10'th, 2000

Join Scripps researcher, Dr. Donna Blackman and the entire scientific team, as they guide the deep submersible Alvin to probe the depths of the North Atlantic - exploring undersea mountains of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Drop-in twice a week to check out journals from the ship, posted Tuesday and Thursday between November 14 - December 14, 2000. An exception will be made for Thanksgiving day. Be part of our latest Earthguide Adventure!

Fig. 1. Dr. Donna Blackman. Join her and fellow chief scientists Dr. Jeff Karson and Dr. Deborah Kelley as they guide the expedition team.

An overview
Where we are going. Basemap adapted from NGDC/NOAA 2-minute gridded relief map of the seafloor. Further information is available at http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/bathymetry/predicted/explore.HTML     Reporting from the decks of the research ship Atlantis, from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, we invite you to join an international team of scientists as they spend almost four weeks exploring an unusual mountain called the Atlantis Massif, which is part of the extensive Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is one of the earth's largest undersea mountain ranges at a length of nearly 10,000 km.

Fig. 2. Where we're going - 30 degrees north on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Deployment of DSL-120 on a previous research cruise. Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Hess Deep Expedition     The team will use several high-tech tools to study the smooth and corrugated top of the mountain as well as its steep slopes where landslides and faults expose rocks that are usually hidden deep beneath the seafloor. The scientists plan to investigate the processes that might have brought these deep rocks to the surface in the form of an unusually large and elevated undersea mountain.
     For two weeks on site, the scientists will dive to the surface of the Atlantis Massif in the deep submersible Alvin to observe and chart its structure and collect rock samples. During several of these dives, the scientists will deploy an instrument called a gravity meter to measure very tiny changes in the pull of gravity that hint at the nature of buried faults.
     In addition, high performance sonar and video instruments will be towed from the research ship Atlantis. The sonar instrument images the surface of the undersea mountain using sound waves, similar to the way a camera uses light waves to make a photograph. The video instrument package will film rocks, faults and small volcanic features using very powerful lights to illuminate the blackness of the deep ocean.

Fig. 3. Watch the scientists deploy investigative tools at sea.

The scientific expedition team
      Scientists from eight different universities will participate on this research cruise aboard the R/V Atlantis, one of several research ships in the U.S. academic fleet. Investigators from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, including chief scientist Donna Blackman, will bring expertise in geophysical mapping and gravity measurements. Colleagues from Duke University will be led by co-investigator Jeff Karson, a structural geologist. Deborah Kelley from the University of Washington, a geochemist, is the final member of the 3-person lead group for the project.

The expedition begins
Dive with the scientists aboard the deep submersible Alvin. Image from OAR/National Undersea Research Program (NURP); Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.      At the expedition's height, the decks of R/V Atlantis will become a separate study in group dynamics as scientists, technicians and the ship's crew work in shifts around the clock to launch, operate and retrieve the various submersible vehicles; sort and study retrieved specimens; monitor scientific instruments and video screens; log data and transcribe their taped dictations during Alvin dives; strategize for the next days' activities; and somehow manage to find the time to eat and sleep!

Fig. 4. Dive with the scientists aboard the deep submersible Alvin

     Join us on this journey of exploration to the frontiers of the seafloor and dive alongside scientists to restless undersea mountains of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

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To learn more: Observing the unusual | Scientific questions | Theory 1 | Theory 2


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