Last night the team had a chance to finally get some much needed sleep during a 16 hour transit from the Slope Base site, to the base of Axial Seamount. Axial is the largest and most magmatically active volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, located >300 miles off the Oregon coast. We are anxious to visit its’ summit because it erupted April 24, 2015. Real-time data from the cabled observatory provided ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ on the volcano during the eruption. Seismometers and bottom-pressure tilt instruments within the caldera showed that the eruption was marked by ~ 8000 earthquakes over a 24 hr period and that the seafloor dropped over 7 feet during this same period. Hydrophones on the volcano and at the base, where we are currently working, detected what we believe were explosions at the northern portion of the summit.
Although anxious to get to the top of the volcano and have the first eyes on it since the eruption, today we focused on swapping out the two science pods on the Shallow Profiler Mooring at the base of the volcano. Similar to yesterday, these tasks were completed in a very timely fashion. This marks the completion of our work at Axial Base for a few days as we work at the summit of the volcano. We will return to Axial Base to complete some CTD work for instrument verification.
Tonight we have a short transit to the summit of the volcano. Our first dive will be in the ASHES hydrothermal vent field to install a high definition camera that will provide real-time video to the Internet in the fall.