Volcano Watch: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist sails across the Atlantic

by scientists and affiliates of the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

NOAA Ocean Exploration’s Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle will be used during Voyage to the Ridge 2022 to acquire high-definition visual data and collect limited samples in poorly explored areas along the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone, Mid-Atlantic Ridge Atlantic and the Azores plateau. Here, Deep Discoverer flies over several large igneous rocks covered in bamboo coral while diving on a seamount in the New England Seamount Range. More images are available at https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/image-gallery/welcome.html. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones: New England and Corner Rise Seamounts.

June 8 was World Oceans Day, a day to appreciate the huge body of salt water that covers around 71% of the Earth’s surface. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our volcanic island is surrounded by oceans and one of the furthest places from continents on Earth. The ocean floor remains one of the most misunderstood places on our planet.

This month, Dr. Ashton Flinders, geophysicist researcher at the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, will co-lead a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ocean exploration expedition to a poorly explored section of the ocean floor. the Atlantic Ocean to the north and around the Azores Islands.

Dr. Flinders’ journey is the middle part of a much larger expedition that runs from May to August 2022 and is called NOAA’s “Journey to the Ridge 2022.” Shipping will be live in real time, so you can follow Dr. Flinders throughout the journey.

Dr. Flinders’ participation in this expedition continues a long legacy of HVO involvement in underwater exploration. During the expedition, he will work as a science ambassador, helping to coordinate scientists aboard and ashore to plan and complete exploration missions. He will bring his scientific expertise to assist in the description of newly explored areas, including live narration during ROV dives.


Dr. Flinders will fly from Hilo, Hawaii, to Saint John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, where he will board the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer. The ship will depart Saint John’s on June 16, sailing 900 miles to the intersection of the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.


The ship will then sail south along a poorly explored section of the MAR and arrive in the Azores archipelago in mid-July. These nine islands are an autonomous region of Portugal that sits on the border of the triple junction that separates North America, Eurasia, and African plates. These volcanic islands are an expression of hotspot volcanism, although it differs significantly from the Hawaiian hotspot.

Stretching the north-south length of the Atlantic Ocean and stretching 16,100 km (10,000 miles), the MAR is the world’s longest mountain range and one of four major ridges that create a new ocean crust.

The MAR is offset by hundreds of faults and is unique in having a deep fault valley along much of the range’s crest which is the site of volcanic activity and earthquakes frequent. In other areas of MAR, spectacular hydrothermal vents often form where magma provides heat as it rises toward the seafloor.


These vents are known to support diverse biological communities that thrive through chemical reactions that replace sunlight on the ocean floor. However, little is known about life at these sites after the vents are extinguished, or about life beyond the vents, farther from the rift zone. Shipboard expeditions Okeanos Explorer led to the discovery of new species.

The Journey to the Ridge Expedition is part of a major multi-year multinational program of collaborative ocean exploration focused on improving collective knowledge and understanding of the North Atlantic Ocean; the Atlantic Seafloor Partnership for Integrated Research and Exploration.

The North Atlantic Ocean plays a central role for humanity, providing biological and geological resources, seafood production and climate regulation, as well as a route of trade and travel between Europe and the Americas. . With increasing globalization, efforts to understand, conserve, manage and defend the maritime commons have become an essential shared responsibility.

Seafloor mapping from NOAA’s upcoming Atlantic expedition will be visible on the live stream whenever remotely operated vehicle dives are not being conducted. ROV dives can cover depths ranging from 820 to 19,685 feet deep. During the dives, they expect to explore deep-sea coral and sponge habitats, potential hydrothermal vents and extinct polymetallic sulphide systems, fracture and rift zones, and the water column. The dives will be broadcast daily, from approximately 6:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT (12:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. HST).

Whether you’re here on the island of Hawai’i, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, or watching from a distance as NOAA maps the floor of the Atlantic Ocean several weeks from now, we hope you’ll take a moment to appreciate our oceans and the important role they play in the creation of life. possible on Earth.

Volcanic activity updates

The Kīlauea volcano is erupting. Its USGS Volcanic Alert Level is at WATCH.

Over the past week, lava has continued to erupt from the western vent of Halema’uma’u Crater. All lava is confined within Halema’uma’u Crater in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. sulfur dioxide emission rates remain high and were last measured at around 1,900 tonnes per day (tpd) on 8 June. Seismicity is high but stable, with few earthquakes and ongoing volcanic tremors. The top indicates several minor deflation-inflation trends over the past week.

Mauna Loa is not erupting and remains at the ADVISORY Volcanic Alert Level. This alert level does not mean that an eruption is imminent or that progress to an eruption from the current level of unrest is certain.

Last week, about 30 low-magnitude earthquakes were recorded below the summit and upper flanks of Mauna Loa, the majority of them occurring at depths less than 15 kilometers (9 miles) below the level of the sea. Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements show low rates of ground deformation over the past week. Gas concentrations and Fumarole temperatures at the summit and at Sulfur Cone on the southwest rift zone have remained stable over the past week. The webcams show no change in the landscape.

Two earthquakes were reported felt in the Hawaiian Islands in the past week: a M3.1 earthquake 15 km (9 mi) SSW of Leilani Estates at 6 km (3 mi) depth on June 5 at 3:01 a.m. HST and an M2. 3 earthquake 2 km (1 mi) S of Captain Cook at 9 km (6 mi) depth on June 3 at 9:20 p.m. HST.

HVO continues to closely monitor the ongoing eruption of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa for any signs of increased activity.

Volcano Watch is a weekly article and activity update written by scientists and affiliates of the US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Email questions to [email protected]

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