Soon We Go to Sea – Yahoo!!

Jason emerges from a dive atop Axial Seamount (1500 m). Credit: M. Elend, University of Washington. V20

All Regional Cabled Array (RCA) team members are full out getting ready for the upcoming ninth RCA expedition, August 11 – September 20, 2023 for the cabled component of the National Science Foundations’ Ocean Observatories Initiative. The cruise will be aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson, operated by the University of Washington, hosting the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason, operated by the National Deep Submergence Facility .

This expedition includes four Legs, separated by ~2-3 day port calls at the NOAA Marine Operation Center – Pacific (MOC-P) in Newport, Oregon. Once again, you may “join” us on the cruise by watching the live streaming video on interactiveoceans of all deck operations and as Jason dives to depths up to 9500 m, works at the largest and most active volcano off our coast – Axial Seamount, and works in some of the most biologically productive waters in the ocean along the Cascadia Margin.

The VISIONS’23 site, as with previous years, will include daily blogs and student blogs, sharing their experiences at sea. For many students this experience is life changing.

Anemones sitting on top of the profiler mooring platform at 200 m water depth are surrounded by feather stars. Credit: J. Wilson, University of Washington, V21.

The cruise, once again, is highly complex with a diverse array of ~127 Core OOI instruments, 4 junction boxes, 2 Benthic Experiment Platforms, 6 instrumented pods on the Shallow Profiler Moorings to be recovered and installed (turned), turning of 2 Deep Profiler Moorings and 1 instrumented McLane vehicle on a Deep Profiler Mooring. There are also five externally funded days for the addition, turning, and recovery of instrumentation and fluid sampling.

Externally funded work includes:

2 days to Dr. R. Anderson (Carleton College) for her NSF Early Career program focused on microbes and viruses at Axial Seamount,

1 day of NSF-funded work to Dr. W. Wilcock and D. Manalang (University of Washington) for turning of a cabled transponder as part of their acoustic array on the eastern and western walls of Axial Caldera and at the Central Caldera Site to measure deformation of the volcano,

1 day to turn three  CTD’s funded by NSF to Dr. W. Chadwick (Oregon State University) to test the hypothesis that brines (generated by boiling hydrothermal vent fluids) are ejected from beneath  the seafloor during eruptive events,

1 NSF-funded day to Dr. K. Bemis (Rutgers University) to recover the COVIS multibeam sonar at the ASHES hydrothermal vent field at the summit of Axial Seamount.

1 day to Drs. Y. Marcon and G. Bohrmann (Umiversity of Bremen  Germany) to recover their cabled instruments at Southern Hydrate Ridge focused on examination of methane flux co-registered with processes operating at this dynamic seep area.

An active black smoker on the hydrothermal chimney “Mushroom” is surrounded by a dense colony of beautiful tube worms. Credit: UW/NSF-OOI/CSSF

This year, 25 undergraduate students and two graduate students will participate as part of the VISIONS’23 at-sea experiential learning program. They include students from the US, India, Hungary, Sri Lanka, and the UK. They represent a breadth of disciplines spanning Oceanography, Geology, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Marine Biology, Computer Science, and Neuroscience. Dr. Dax Soule, will mentor two students from Queens College, NY, and Dr. Rika Anderson is entraining a student and postdoc as part of her research at Carleton College. The young readers author Victoria Jamieson, a National Book Award Finalist, will also sail with us, as well as the Leo Richards, a student at South Hampton University in the UK, who will be making a series of short films about the RCA, and the environments we study, and the amazing biology that they host. The films will be hosted on his site Natural World Facts and on YouTube (numerous individual videos in his series have >2-3 million views).

Please join us during this exciting expedition.