This multidisciplinary project seeks to quantify the effects of submarine volcanic and hydrothermal activity on the ocean. Continuous acoustic monitoring of spreading centers in the world’s oceans allows investigators to detect and study the chemical, physical, geological and biological effects of tectonic activity on the global ocean and to follow free-ranging populations of large cetaceans.
The Vents Program 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. Research activity over the past year has focused on submarine volcanic systems, including mid-ocean ridge spreading centers such as the Juan de Fuca Ridge off the Washington-Oregon coast, and subduction zone systems such as the Mariana volcanic arc in the western Pacific.
A wide range of research tools are used for this work, including submarine hydrophones 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.