Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Vance Expedition, July 24 - August 6, 2006

Click on any name to read an interview from the expedition participants

Dave Clague, Gillian Clague, Elizabeth Cornejo, Brian Cousens, Kristen Choquette, Christoph Helo, Joe Jones, Jenny Paduan, Michael Perfit, John Stix, Rachel Wendt

Dave Clague, Ph.D.     top of page
MBARI Senior Scientist

http://www.mbari.org/staff/clague
What is your role on this cruise?
I will be the Chief Scientist on this cruise.

What are your primary goals?
We always go out to sea with a long list of questions we hope to find some answers to. This year I hope to narrow down the age of the last eruption in the southern Gorda Ridge at a location we have been working, off and on, for many years, the Escanaba Trough.
After this single dive we will proceed to Axial Seamount on the Juan de Fuca Ridge where we will use the MBARI vibracorer to collect sediment cores up to one meter long on the rim of the volcano. Axial Volcano sits astride the Juan de Fuca Ridge spreading center and rises to within about 1500 m of the surface. The summit has a huge trap-door caldera and eruptive fissure zones to the north and south of the caldera. We collected a few short pushcores on the rim of the caldera last year and what we found spurred our interests in recovering longer core samples. The short cores contained a greenish layer of hydrothermal clays, glass fragments from pyroclastic eruptions, and broken rock fragments. These were all probably deposited during an explosive eruption at the summit, perhaps one associated with collapse of the summit caldera. We want to get longer sections through this and perhaps earlier similar deposits to determine when the last summit collapse took place and what the eruption accompanying that collapse was like. The deposits scattered around the caldera are the key to figuring this out.
After we finish our work at Axial Seamount, we are going to explore a small chain of volcanoes that formed near the spreading center. These Vance Seamounts have flat tops and numerous large nested calderas. The volcanoes formed in deeper water than the one at Axial and we want to determine if they too had explosive eruptions and if there are other explosive eruption deposits exposed in the steep caldera walls. The faults that bound these calderas are also likely places for hydrothermal fluids to escape and we want to see if there are any active hydrothermal systems and if they are located along these faults.

What do you expect to find?
The work at Escanaba Trough is pretty predictable because we have been there so many times before, so I expect few surprises there, although one never knows what unusual animals we might encounter. At Axial Seamount, we really do not know how thick the volcanic sedimentary deposits are that are on the rim. Last year, we collected only short cores, so we might be surprised by how thick such deposits are. I expect that we will get some long cores here that will give us a history of the explosive eruptions that have occurred. The Vance Seamounts have never been visited by ROVs or submersibles and we will almost surely find things we don’t anticipate. The key is to always keep your eyes open and SEE what is there, not just what you are looking for. I hope we find volcaniclastic deposits around the calderas and some history of previous explosive eruptions in the walls of the calderas.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a research cruise is the intensity of new discoveries and incorporating what we have just seen into the plans for the rest of the dive or the next dives. Worst part is dealing with bad weather that can prevent our planned programs from happening.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am a Senior Scientist at MBARI. I love finding out how the world works and wanted to get paid to do it. I took lots of science and math classes in high school and college and majored in geology, then on to graduate school in oceanography.

 


Brian Cousens, Ph.D top of page
Carleton University

What is your role on this cruise?
My role as a geologist on this cruise is to make observations about
lava flow morphology. What are the relationships between flow
morphology and other seafloor features such as faults or volcanic vents
on seamounts? When I return to Ottawa, I will look at the chemistry of
the lava samples that we collect to determine the characteristics of the mantle sources of the lavas and how the composition of the lavas changed prior to eruption as they resided within the volcanic edifice.

What are your primary goals?
Studying seamounts that form adjacent to mid-ocean ridges has been one of my favorite research topics. The seamounts that we are visiting formed along the flank of the mid-ocean ridge rather than on it, and the lavas are formed by melting of a small part of the mantle away from the ridge - sort of a spot analysis of the Earth's interior. The seamounts of the Vance chain (as well as Axial seamount) have numerous calderas, or volcanic collapse features, at their summits and on the ridge-facing flank. Calderas are usually associated with large subsurface magma reservoirs within which magmas from the mantle can partially crystallize and interact with pre-existing crustal rocks. I
hope to find evidence in the chemistry of the lavas for how magmas evolved in magma reservoirs beneath the seamounts. I also hope to see evidence for extinct hydrothermal venting on the Vance seamounts, expecially around the faults associated with the calderas. Hydrothermal vents produce deposits of economically-important minerals
that are sources of base metals such as copper, lead, zinc and silver.

What do you expect to find?
Previous cruises to the Vance seamounts have recovered possible hydrothermal vent minerals, so I am hoping that we will find one locality or more. I expect to see a change in rock type between lavas of the volcano flank and those that came from the summit calderas. The difference in rock type will tell us a lot about processes occurring in the sub-surface magma reservoir.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
I enjoy everything to do with the cruise except for the steam out to the first dive site. The Western Flyer and the MBARI crew are really well organized, so setting up for dives doesn't take long and then it is the big wait until we arrive at the first dive site. Working on the Western Flyer is a blast - everyone works together so well. The food is amazing, too - thanks Derek! This cruise is extra special for me, since my daughter is also coming along as a biology student. Kristen loves her marine invertebrates!

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am an adjunct professor in the Earth Sciences department at Carleton University in Ottawa. I make a living doing
radiogenic isotope analyses here at Carleton under contracts, and MBARI is one of my most important contractors. I also teach courses at Carleton and supervise both graduate and undergraduate students. I decided to become a university researcher about 20 years ago, after discovering a series of research papers on how Hawaiian volcanoes are formed. This lead me to look at other islands like Hawaii to see if they formed in the same way, and that was the subject of my Ph.D. thesis. I now work on volcanoes in many different parts of the world, including extremely old volcanic rocks in the Northwest Territories of Canada. It's fun to work in many different places on a variety of
project types, since I meet lots of terrific people.


Michael Perfit top of page
University of Florida

What is your role on the cruise?
I am one of the igneous petrologists and marine geologists on the cruise. I will be sampling basalts using the ROV Tiburon and a wax corer from seamounts along the Vance Seamount Chain, making sure that we know their exact tectonic and morphologic associations as well as their relative ages compared to the young basalts in the axis. Back in my labs at the University of Florida, my student Rachel Wendt (her first cruise) and I will be analyzing the glass from the exterior crusts of the lavas for major and trace elements, and then integrating that data with the isotopic compositions determined by Brian Cousins. 

What are your primary goals?
The purpose of a few of the dives during this expedition is to investigate and sample the off-axis Vance Seamounts that lie just to the west of the intersection of the Vance and northern Cleft segments of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Our previous dredging of the seamounts suggested that the lavas that comprise the seamounts are more chemically depleted and more primitive than those that erupt along the ridge axis. Additional sampling will help us understand if the sources of the off-axis magmatism are different from those that feed the axis and how these relatively common volcanic features are formed. The planned field and laboratory research will provide us with a comprehensive petrologic and geochemical data base to test hypotheses regarding chemical heterogeneity of the mantle, magma extraction mechanisms, development of subaxial magma bodies, and the causes and origins of off-axis volcanism.

What do you expect to find?
I expect to find a great deal of chemical diversity among the lavas we recover, particularly compared to the relatively homogeneous lavas that erupt at the ridge axis. I also expect that we might find an extinct hydrothermal field because one of our previous dredges recovered a relatively fresh looking chimney that must have been formed by off-axis hydrothermal activity. This would be a fairly unique discovery and I am hopeful we will find the exact location.

What is your favorite part of a research cruise? 
I really enjoy being out in the open ocean and working closely with a wide variety of people. I have made some great friends over the years while at sea. I also enjoy the exploration aspects of oceanographic research - everything from mapping the bottom, to seeing sections of the seafloor that have never been seen before, to recovering lavas that never thought they would find their way to sunny Florida. It's also a pleasure to leave many of my day-to-day responsibilities back at the University of Florida. Although email has allowed some degree of connection with the real world while we are at sea, not getting phone calls or having papers and tests to grade is very relaxing. AND – the food has always been great on the Flyer, including the coffee!
My least favorite parts of the cruise are getting used to sleeping in a small bunk bed and not being able to exercise very much (particularly when the food is so good and plentiful).

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am a Professor at the University of Florida. I decided that I wanted to teach and do research at a univerisity during my years as an undergraduate St. Lawrence University in New York. My interests in natural science began when I was a young boy. I remember getting a copy of National Geographic magazine from my aunt and it showed a bearded scientist doing research on the ice cap at the South Pole without a shirt on. For some reason, this image of how exciting exploration could be really affected me. Growing up on Long Island in New York State, I spent much of my time at the beach and in the water. Because I love the ocean and science was one of my better subjects in school I began to think of becoming an oceanographer. In 9th grade, I took an Earth Science class, and the teacher was really enthusiastic about geology and that got me interested in rocks....and no! I wasn't a nerd in high school. My first semester at college, I took a introductory geology course and that class pretty much sold me on majoring in geology. The professor was a petrologist (a geologist who studies different rocks and what they are made of), and he taught us all about volcanoes and earthquakes which really interested me. After I got my undergraduate degree, I decided I wanted to be a full-time scientist and do research and teach. I went to Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, which is part of Columbia University in New York to study marine geology. The combination of my interest in rocks, volcanoes and the oceans lead me to become a marine petrologist/geochemist.

 


Elizabeth Cornejo

Carleton University

What is your role on this cruise?
I am part of the graduate student contingent on the cruise.

What are your primary goals?
My primary goal is to collect samples for my Master’s thesis. Beyond that, I hope to have a lot of fun and return home with a journal full of great stories.

What do you expect to find?
I expect (hope) to find basaltic rocks with phenocrysts and/or inclusions that will help me investigate the magmatic history of the Vance Seamounts.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Having never been part of a research cruise, I cannot say, but I am looking forward to exploring a part of the earth that few people ever have the chance to.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am a graduate student in geology at Carleton University.
I have always enjoyed the breadth of geology and the exotic places it takes me!!


Christoph Helo top of page
McGill University

What is your role on this cruise?
As a student, together with my supervisor, we want to investigate the development and behaviour of submarine caldera systems. Besides that, I guess I will be told on the ship, where my assistance is needed ;-)

What are your primary goals?
Basically, I am interested in the way caldera edifices form in the submarine environment, their eruption mechanisms and behaviour of the erupted magma, as well as in the influence of the water column, and possible differences in the behaviour compared to subaerial caldera systems.

What do you expect to find?
Good question! Interesting rocks! For instance, I'd like to find evidence for either/or both, explosive or non-explosive behaviour of erupted magmas (flow or blow), or get any possible information about the nature of the deposited material, or....., guess there is enough to be investigated.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Can't tell. Never went on a research cruise before, actually I've never been on a ship for longer than a few hours. So I do hope the sea is not too rough!

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
Well, I finished my studies in Geology in Germany, this would make me a Diploma Geologist. I simply think Geology is the most interesting and exciting part of natural sciences.


John Stix top of page
McGill University

What is your role on this cruise?
I will be studying the physical and chemical development of submarine caldera systems.

What are your primary goals?
My goals are to understand how calderas form in the submarine environment, and how their characteristics differ from their subaerial counterparts.

What do you expect to find?
I'm not sure! I am quite interested in how magma flows into and out of caldera systems, and the nature of erupted material from calderas, also the interface between explosive and non-explosive eruptions.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?

This is my very first research cruise! I am afraid of getting seasick.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am Associate professor of Volcanology. I enjoy both research and teaching, so this is why I decided to become a professor. When I finished my PhD, I was offered a professor position, so accepted it.


Jennifer Paduan top of page
MBARI Senior Research Technician  
http://www.mbari.org/staff/paje
http://www.mbari.org/volcanism

What is your role on this cruise?
General science support: prepping all the lab supplies before the cruise; preparing the mapping data and real-time GIS beforehand, using it during dives to track where the ROV is on our bathymetric maps, and making dive track maps afterward; annotating the ROV video during dives; making sure the samples don't get mixed up when the sample drawer gets emptied on deck; and then cleaning, photographing, and bagging the samples afterward. When we get home the real work with the samples and analytical data begins! I'll also be coordinating these daily logs we send ashore.

What are your primary goals?
My goals: to understand the evolution of the Vance and Axial Seamounts, which were formed and are forming, respectively, because of excess melting at points on the mid-ocean ridge; and to ensure that everything runs smoothly. My wishes: that the weather is benign, we get to all the dive targets we are planning, and can collect lots of samples.

What do you expect to find?
I expect to find thick deposits from explosive eruptions on Axial Seamount and entire eruption sequences exposed in the caldera walls of the Vance Seamounts. If we're really lucky, we'll find vent kitties!

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Favorite: the excitement of new discoveries, piecing together scientific puzzles, exploration. Least favorite: getting seasick.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one? 
I have always loved science: What are the plants around me, the animals, rocks, landforms, the stars? What are they made of? How did they get to be the way they are? What makes them function and persist? How are we impacting them? I love the interdisciplinary nature of Oceanography: to understand the ecology of an animal, you must also understand the chemistry, physics, and geology of its habitat. When I was young, I wanted to study volcanoes, then to become an astronomer, then a veterinarian. I was a biochemistry major at a liberal arts college, and went to graduate school to study marine biochemical ecology. Fortunately, along the way I took several geology courses, because my path has taken me full circle back to studying volcanoes! 


Joe Jones top of page
MBARI Research Technician / Project Manager 

What is your role on this cruise?
My role on this cruise will be assisting with sorting and organizing biological samples we bring up with Tiburon.

What are your primary goals?
My primary goal is to sort and preserve biological samples from the Tiburon dives so that they are catalogued and archived. Additionally, my goal is to make sure all of the biological samples get back to our research lab in the best possible condition.

What do you expect to find?
I hope to find additional populations of deep-sea animals that our lab is studying. We use genetic tools to determine relationships among hydrothermal vent organisms from throughout the Eastern Pacific. We have a general idea of what we'll find, but the deep-sea is always full of surprises and new species. "Expect the unexpected" is my general motto when at sea. Sometimes you find a yeti crab! (link: http://www.mbari.org/news/homepage/2006/yeti-crab.html)

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part of a research cruise is the total immersion (pun partially intended) in the dive and the sample processing. Working until 2 AM is not that bad with all the excitement of the new animals and rocks. On a cruise last year, I got to dive in Alvin twice! I also like the traveling associated with cruises. I've been able to see a lot of the world and the oceans because of my job.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
My official job title is Research Technician/Project Manager. I do a lot of DNA work including molecular biology and phylogenetics. I also do a lot of managerial work such as making sure the research lab is fully stocked and running smoothly. I am also responsible for managing the lab's various project budgets.

When I was growing up in South Carolina, my parents would take my sister and I to the beach for a family vacation. My parents encouraged my interest in nature and the ocean when I was about 5 years old. I became fascinated with the diversity of tide pools and learning about the tides. My family owns a lot of land with ponds and creeks where I spent a lot of time exploring. My fascination with fish, in particular, started when I was old enough to hold a fishing rod and has increased continuously since. Also when I was growing up, I was interested in how things work and why certain animals were found certain places and not others. I obtained my B.S. at the University of South Carolina in the Marine Science Program. I spent a lot of time volunteering in an ichthyology research lab where I became serious about my pursuit of a Ph.D. I also became involved with the Marine Science Undergraduate Society (MSUS) where I helped organize undergraduate research trips to local barrier islands. During my senior year, I did an independent research project in Dr. Joe Quattro's lab on population genetics of an estuarine flatfish. Dr. Quattro encouraged me to return to his lab after a brief summer at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) working as a visiting scientist. I returned to Dr. Quattro's lab where I became involved in a number of projects ranging from population genetic structure of summer flounder (my Masters thesis) to conservation genetics of pygmy sunfishes in the southeast United States. I moved to UC Santa Cruz following my Masters where I worked in Dr. Giacomo Bernardi's lab. I focused on two native California freshwater minnow species using DNA markers and phylogenetic methods. I've been working with Bob Vrijenhoek at MBARI for about 4 years now. It's a great lab to be in with all the exciting projects and people. Plus, we all get to travel to exotic places to collect unusual animals with equipment such as the Alvin.



Rachel Wendt top of page
University of Florida

What is your role on this cruise?
I will be assisting the scientists by processing samples, taking notes, and doing whatever else I can to contribute to the overall success of the cruise.

What are your primary goals?
Many of the areas we will be visiting on this cruise are my field areas for my master's thesis project. I hope to get a good understanding of the processes that govern this part of the seafloor and gather as much information as possible to bring back and analyze.

What do you expect to find?
This is my first trip to the mid-ocean ridge and I am excited to get a first hand look at the images that I have seen for such a long time on the Discovery Channel!

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Since I have never been on a research cruise before (or any cruise for that matter!), I am eagerly anticipating all of the new experiences that being on the ocean affords. I'm sure I will have to learn how to walk all over again and taking a shower will probably be interesting! I love being on the water, so I most looking forward to getting away from land for two weeks.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am a graduate student and teaching assistant in the Department of Geology at the University of Florida. I started out as an undeclared student my freshman year of undergrad, but soon found the description of an introduction to geology class got me interested. I took the class and was hooked! I decided to double major in Marine Science and Geology, so I got two of my passions all wrapped up in one degree! When I graduated, I was not done learning yet, so I decided to pursue a higher degree at UF. Who knew I could get paid for traveling the world!


Kristen Choquette top of page
University of Ottowa

What is your role on this cruise?
This is my first research cruise, so I expect to learn a lot about the biology and geology of the ocean floor. My role on the cruise will be to help with keeping track of the position of the ROV during dives and make biological observations. I will also be responsible for preservation of biological specimens after they are brought up to the surface.

What are your primary goals?
I would like to be able to get some experience in the field of marine biology. I enjoy being able to work with things hands on, to see how everything works in the "real world" and not just learn from a textbook. I hope this trip will spark my interest in field research and give me some idea of what I would like to do with my career. My main goal is to discover species of invertebrates that I have never seen before, and learn more about their habitat.

What do you expect to find?
I'm hoping I will get to work with lots of different invertebrates. Invertebrate zoology is, in my opinion, is the most interesting stream of biology.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
Well, this will be my first research cruise, so I'm still not quite sure what to expect. I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy the entire experience. My least favorite part of the cruise so far is not being able to pack too many clothes or shoes! Haha!

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am currently attending the University of Ottawa, going into my fourth and final year of biology. I have always loved biology, but I'm most attracted to anything that has to do with the ocean. I'm hoping to go to teachers college once I'm done my bachelors degree and become a high school biology teacher. The experience I'm gaining from this cruise will allow me to give a different perspective of biology to the students that they can't find in a book.



Gillian Clague
top of page
Undergraduate Student, Willamette University

What is your role on this cruise?
I am going to be helping out both the team of biologists and the team of geologists in the lab and in the control room, doing whatever needs to be done when all the samples come to the lab.

What are your primary goals?
To learn more about my interest in marine biology, and how to turn this interest into a career.

What do you expect to find?
I expect to learn more about the ecology at a variety of benthic sites, and to observe how the abundance and diversity of marine organisms depend on the geology at each site. I also expect to be able to recognize a number of species on sight at the end of this cruise.

What is your favorite/least favorite part of a research cruise?
My favorite part is when the ROV is on the bottom. Every second in the control room is a new experience. I also enjoy the conversations between all the people who are involved in a cruise, they keep you alert at all times.

What is your job title? Why did you decide to become one? And how did you become one?
I am a junior biology major at Willamette University. Marine biology intrigues me because you have to think about what is beyond a page in a textbook.