Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Expeditions
2009 Pacific Northwest Expedition


Leg 4 - Submarine Volcanism I
Chief Scientist - David Clague
August 16 - 25, 2009

Leg #4 of this expedition focuses on sampling at Axial Volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge and at one of the Vance Seamounts nearby.

The first objective is to sample the pyroclastic deposits that blanket the summits and are exposed at the rims of the large calderas of the two volcanoes. The thick deposits should record the entire sequence of eruptions since the calderas formed. We plan to use the vibracorer to sample the entire section at each volcano to determine if the calderas collapsed in a single, cataclysmic event or as a series of smaller eruptions, determine the timing of the collapse, and discover how the clasts formed and were deposited.

The second objective is to collect young and old flows inside and on the rim of Axial caldera. We will use high-resolution bathymetry recently acquired by the Mapping AUV to guide our ROV dives. Axial Volcano erupted most recently in 1998 with a vigorous flow at the southern end of the caldera that overran older, perhaps more voluminous flows. ROV observations of this and the other, well-mapped flows, and advances we are making in age-dating of the collected samples, will improve our understanding of the history of Axial Volcano: of timing, volumes, and emplacement styles of volcanic events.

Other objectives are to sample hydrothermal fluids using a newly designed sampler for continued monitoring of the hydrothermal systems at Axial and comparison with those at Loihi Seamount, Hawaii; and to collect hydrothermal vent animals for genetic analysis to assess dispersal and isolation of vent populations.


Day 10 — Back to Newport
August 25, 2009

We are transiting as fast as those horses below can go, heading for the stability and hardware stores of shore...


Day 9 — Worsening Weather
August 24, 2009

As predicted a few days ago, weather conditions today were unsuitable for the ROV dive....


Day 8 — Axial Volcano
August 23, 2009

A deep-sea octopus, Graneledone, crawls across a ....


Day 7 — Axial Volcano
August 22, 2009

We saw many of these sea cucumbers (holothurians) posing in this posture ....


Day 6 — Axial Volcano
August 21, 2009

Karen and Kyra on the well deck (stern) of the Western Flyer, preparing to assist with the deployment of the wax-tipped rock crusher....


Day 5 — Deep-sea hydrothermal vents
August 20, 2009

Ever since I learned about deep-sea hydrothermal vents from Dr. Verena Tunnicliffe’s undergraduate benthic marine biology class at the University of Victoria, I’ve hoped to be able to see one of these remarkable places for myself...


Day 4 — Down in the caldera
August 19, 2009

Dive 71 started down in the caldera of Axial Volcano. We traversed and sampled several flows we can trace in the high-resolution AUV-generated map...


Day 3 — First dive at Axial Seamount
August 18, 2009

After lunch today, the weather finally abated enough that we could launch the ROV Doc Ricketts. The dive was on the northeast rim of the caldera at Axial Seamount...


Day 2 — Waiting out the storm
August 17, 2009

We're all thankful that the storm has passed, but now we have been set back a day. Our first dive opportunity will be tomorrow...


Day 1 — Transit Day
August 16, 2009

As the sun sets and night envelopes us on the dark sea, we are steaming west from Newport as fast as we can...


Leg 4
 Equipment

R/V Western Flyer

The R/V Western Flyer is a small water-plane area twin hull (SWATH) oceanographic research vessel measuring 35.6 meters long and 16.2 meters wide. It was designed and constructed for MBARI to serve as the support vessel for ROV operations. Her missions include the Monterey Bay as well as extended cruises to Hawaii, Gulf of California and the Pacific Northwest.

ROV Doc Ricketts

ROV Doc Ricketts is MBARI's next generation ROV. The system breaks new ground in providing an integrated unmanned submersible research platform, with many powerful features providing efficient, reliable and precise sampling and data collection in a wide range of missions.

R/V Zephyr

R/V Zephyr is the primary support vessel for MBARI's autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) program. This 26-meter vessel is also used to maintain environmental moorings, collect time-series data along the California Current, and support scuba divers as they study near-shore habitats.

AUV D. Allan B.

The MBARI Mapping AUV is a torpedo-shaped vehicle equipped with four mapping sonars that operate simultaneously during a mission. The multibeam sonar produces high-resolution bathymetry (analogous to topography on land), the sidescan sonars produce imagery based on the intensity of the sound energy's reflections, and the subbottom profiler penetrates sediments on the seafloor, allowing the detection of layers within the sediments, faults, and depth to the basement rock.

Push cores

A push-core looks like a clear plastic tube with a rubber handle on one end. Just as its name implies, the push core is pushed down into loose sediment using ROV Tiburon's manipulator arm. As the sediment fills up the core, water exits out the top through one-way valves. When the core is pulled up again, these valves close, which (most of the time) keeps the sediment from sliding out of the core tube. When we bring these cores back to the surface, we typically look for living animals and organic material in the sediments.

Niskin bottles

Niskin bottles are used to collect water samples as well as the tiny bacteria and plankton in that volume. The caps at both ends are open until the bottles are tripped, when the caps snap closed.


Biobox

The box fits in a partition in the sample drawer. It is shown open, with an animal being placed into it by the ROV's manipulator. When the lid is closed, the box will hold water to protect the animals inside.


Rock crusher

This device is used to collect volcanic glass fragments from the surface of a flow. It is made of about 450kg of lead and steel and is launched over the stern of the ship on a wire. Fragments of rock that break off of the lava flow on impact are trapped in wax-tipped cones mounted around the crusher. The wax is melted in the lab to liberate the rock particles for analysis.

Benthic toolsled/
Manipulator arm/
Sample drawer with partitions

The benthic toolsled is attached to the bottom of the ROV for our geology dives. Its components are the manipulator arm and the sample drawer. The sample drawer is shown open on deck, full of rocks. Normally it is closed when the vehicle is operating and is opened only when a sample needs to be stowed. Partitions in the drawer help us keep the rocks in order. The rocks often look alike, but the conditions and chemistries of the eruptions are different so it is important that we know where each came from.

Glass suction sampler

This equipment is used to vacuum glass particles and larval animals from cracks and crevices. The carousel of small plastic jars fitted with wire mesh will be mounted in the benthic toolsled. The hose will be held by the ROV's manipulator and a suction will be drawn by the pump.

Sediment scoops

Canvas bags on a T-handle for collecting gravel or other materials that fall out of a push-core.


Temperature probe

Held by the ROV's manipulator, the wire on the right is placed into the fluid emitted from a hydrothermal vent to record the temperature.

Vibracores

Vibracoring is a common technique used to obtain samples from water-saturated sediment. These corers work by attaching a motor that induces high frequency vibrations in the core liner that in turn liquefies the sediment directly around the core cutter, enabling it to pass through the sediment with little resistance.


 Research Team

David Clague
Senior Scientist, MBARI

Dave's research interests are nearly all related to the formation and degradation of oceanic volcanoes, particularly Hawaiian volcanoes, mid-ocean ridges, and isolated seamounts. Topics of interest include: compositions of mantle sources for basaltic magmas and conditions of melting; volatile and rare-gas components in basaltic magmas and their degassing history; chronostratigraphic studies of eruption sequence and evolution of lava chemistry during volcano growth; subsidence of ocean volcanoes and its related crustal flexure, plate deformation, and magmatic activity; geologic setting of hydrothermal activity; origin of isolated seamounts; and monitoring of magmatic, tectonic, and hydrothermal activity at submarine and subaerial volcanoes.

Jenny Paduan
Senior Research Technician, MBARI

Jenny works with Dave Clague in the Submarine Volcanism project. On this expedition, Jenny will be in charge of the GIS work, including use of the recently acquired, high-resolution MBARI Mapping AUV data of our dive sites. She will also stand watches in the ROV control room, help with rock and sediment sample workup and curation once the vehicle is on deck, and coordinate these cruise logs for our group's two legs of the expedition. She is now quite solidly a marine geologist, but her degrees are in biochemistry (Smith College) and biological oceanography (Oregon State University). She is thankful for the opportunities that have led her to study volcanoes, and loves being involved with the research and going to sea. She looks forward to discovering more about how the Earth works.

Brian Dreyer
Science Postdoctoral Fellow, MBARI

Brian completed his Ph.D. in igneous geochemistry at Washington University in Saint Louis in 2007 and has since been working in MBARI's Submarine Volcanism Group. Brian applies the principles of isotope geochemistry to young samples of volcanic rocks to gain insight into aspects of magmatism. Much of his postdoctoral work focuses on eruption and petrogenetic timescales of Axial Seamount, the most volcanically active portion of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. His other research interests include geochemistry of the Earth's mantle, magmatic interaction between oceanic spreading centers and hotspots, and exploiting the systematics of rare isotope species to quantify material flux through subduction zones.

Kyra Schlining
Senior Research Technician, MBARI

Kyra has been working in the Video Lab at MBARI for 13 years. She received her BS from the University of Victoria, BC, and her MS from Moss Landing Marine Labs. Kyra's specialty is identifying deep-sea fish and invertebrates and operating MBARI's video and annotation system, VARS. On this expedition she will assist in the identification, collection, and preservation of biological organisms. She is looking forward to some time in the field getting up close and personal with interesting spineless subjects.

Karen Salamy
Software Engineering Technician, MBARI

Karen worked as a research technician for many years at MBARI before moving into the software engineering department. She was recruited for this cruise due to her knowledge and experience with ocean sediments and marine geology. Karen's duties on the cruise will include control room work and sample handling for the scientists. She is excited to participate on a marine geological research cruise again after working on computers for so many years.

Christoph Helo
PhD Student, McGill University

Christoph completed his degree in geology at the University of Munich and is a Ph.D. student at McGill University, Montreal since 2006. His research focuses on Axial Volcano, specifically on the processes that lead to the formation of the hyaloclastites, the evolution of the magmatic gasses and potential trigger mechanisms for the explosive eruptions. He has been out on a MBARI cruise before, on the Vance 2006 expedition.

Marilena Calarco
PhD student, La Sapienza University Rome, Italy

Marilena is a marine geologist. Her research focuses on submarine flanks of volcanic islands. She mainly works with seafloor mapping and samples collected around Aeolian and Pantelleria volcanic islands, Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy. Her active research interest is the combination of marine morphologies and volcanological data.

John Skutnik
Student, Endicott College

John will be experimenting with newly modified squeeze water samplers at hydrothermal vents on Axial Seamount during this expedition. He will perform various chemical analyses of the samples on two dives. He feels the opportunity to participate in this expedition provides great insight and experience for his future.

Nicola Wheatley
Graduate Student, Naval Postgraduate School
Lieutenant, Royal Navy

Nicola graduated from University of Plymouth, UKwith a BSc (Hons.) in Ocean Science. Her research topic included determining the turbidity of seawater using an ROV and modulation transfer theory. In 2001, she joined the Royal Navy becoming a Hydrographic, Meteorological and Oceanography Officer in 2004. She has been involved in hydrographic survey operations, meteorological and oceanographic forecasting and more recently instructed tactical oceanography and meteorology. Currently, she is studying for her MS in Physical Oceanography at the Naval Postgraduate School.

Nichelle Baxter
University of Florida, Gainesville

Nichelle is a PhD student at the University of Florida. Her research interests are in near-ridge seamounts, such as the Vance and Lamont seamount chains. By studying trace elements and isotopes in lavas from both chains, she hopes to better understand how these seamounts form and what they may illustrate about melting processes in the underlying mantle.