Behind the scenes
Expedition in the Canadian Arctic
Scientists are extremely interested in the Arctic seafloor because it has undergone very dramatic changes due to climate change. In collaboration with Canadian colleagues, MBARI researchers led by Charles Paull embarked on a Canadian icebreaker, the CCGS Sir Wilfred Laurier, to explore the unique undersea geology of the area. On previous trips, Paull and his team discovered methane gas vigorously escaping the seafloor. Gas venting at these sites is associated with either the decomposition of frozen sediments called permafrost, or of gas hydrates, a solid ice-like form of water containing gas molecules. The primary objective of this recent expedition is to document these gas-venting structures, as well as areas of unstable seafloor and other features that appear to be unique to the margins of the Arctic Ocean. The team brought aboard MBARI-developed technology including an autonomous underwater vehicle to conduct seafloor mapping and a mini remotely operated vehicle to collect samples of the escaping gas. The team just returned from their adventure last week. You can read more about Paull’s previous expedition.