CIMRS research involving Earth-Ocean Interactions provides expertise to NOAA for discovering, characterizing, and studying the processes of chemical and physical interactions between the solid Earth and the overlying global ocean.  The unique ecosystems that exist at hydrothermal vents and methane seeps are fundamentally different from other life on Earth, because they are based on chemical energy in the fluids (chemosynthesis) rather than energy from the Sun (photosynthesis). CIMRS researchers discovering new hydrothermal ecosystems and methane seeps in unexplored parts of the oceans characterize the geology, chemistry, and biology of new sites, and track changes in selected systems over time to understand their underlying processes, functions, and resources. Time-series observations show how these ecosystems are perturbed by episodic events and the range of chemical environments shows how they influence the diversity and biogeography of marine life.  Potential resources at hydrothermal axial volcanovents include ore deposits formed by hydrothermal circulation, and novel bioactive compounds that have potential pharmaceutical applications for developing new drugs from the sea. The emission of methane gas from seeps on the west-coast continental margin creates carbonate hard ground that provides important fish habitat and provides a source of energy for marine ecosystems on the seafloor and in the water column.

The Earth-Ocean Interactions (EOI) research teams comprise federal employees, OSU/CIMRS researchers, and outside collaborators from other government agencies and several universities both in the U.S. and abroad. A wide range of research tools are used for this work, including seafloor instruments to detect earthquake and volcanic activity, multi-beam sonar systems for detailed mapping of seafloor bathymetry, and submersibles (both manned and robotic) for direct observation and sampling of seafloor hot spring systems. Funding for this research comes from NOAA and its Ocean Exploration Program, and from other agencies such as the National Science Foundation.

A wide range of research tools are used for this work, including submarine instrumentation to detect earthquake and volcanic activity, multi-beam sonar systems for detailed mapping of seafloor bathymetry, instrument packages deployed from surface ships for detecting and mapping water-column hydrothermal plumes, and submersibles (both manned and robotic) for direct observation and sampling of seafloor hot spring systems. Funding for this research comes from NOAA and its Ocean Exploration Program, and from other agencies such as the National Science Foundation.