Northern 2016 Expedition Expedition dates: July 26- August 16, 2016Ship: R/V Western Flyer Research technology: ROV Doc RickettsMBARI’s research vessel Western Flyer and remotely operated vehicle Doc Ricketts are on a three-week expedition to the waters off the coasts of Oregon and Washington. The Submarine Volcanism Project has been studying the formation of Axial Seamount for about 10 years. This year we have three subjects we want to address. The first of these is to characterize and map the new flows erupted about a year ago. This work involves AUV mapping of the upper half of the north rift zone followed by ROV dives to collect all the flows that remain unsampled. The second study is to determine the age, volume, flow emplacement style, and composition of several extensive lava flows on the distal south rift. These flows are so voluminous that their eruption may have led to collapse or formation of the caldera at the summit of Axial Seamount. We will study them by first mapping them with our mapping AUVs and then sampling the flows and the sediments on top to determine their compositions and ages. The third research topic is to continue to collect and analyze a two-meter thick section of volcanic sediments on the caldera rims. These deposits of volcanic fragments formed during explosive eruptions that were also symptomatic of caldera formation.The Submarine Volcanism group is sharing the first leg of the dive program with the Molecular Ecology group at MBARI and the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK. They are interested in understanding genetic differences that produce the extremely different body shapes (long and skinny or short and fat) of the vent tubeworm, Ridgeia piscesae. We are also studying similar genetic differences in two closely related species of palm worms, Paralvinella sulfincola and P. palmiformis, that live in different temperatures on vent chimneys. They will be collected at hydrothermal vent sites at Escanaba Trough, N. Gorda Ridge, N. Cleft, and the summit of Axial Seamount. In addition, water samples will be collected around vent fields to understand how chemosynthetic microbes and the larvae of benthic invertebrates that inhabit hydrothermal vents are distributed. Hydrothermal vents are really exciting to visit, especially since, with the exception of Axial Seamount, these sites have not been observed or sampled since the early 2000s so geochemical fluids will be sampled to determine changes in the systems over time. More About this Expedition About this expedition:Eve Lundsten and Charlie PaullA team of 11 from MBARI will be participating in an international research expedition on the Korean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) icebreaker Araon from August 21 to September 17, 2022. MBARI will be providing state-of-the-art autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to study the seafloor under the Canadian Beaufort Sea along the southern edge of the Arctic Ocean. On this expedition we will investigate the effects of thawing submarine permafrost in this remote area of the Arctic Ocean. Korea icebreaker AraonPermafrost is ground that remains frozen throughout the year. Global warming has focused considerable attention on the decomposition of permafrost on land and its impact on shaping the landscape. In contrast, almost nothing is known about the decomposition of relict permafrost under the sea. The Arctic Ocean is rimmed by vast shallow areas, such as the continental shelf in the Beaufort Sea. During periods of low sea level associated with glaciation, these shallow areas have been periodically exposed to the frigid air temperatures suitable for permafrost formation. Because of the lack of moisture in the Arctic, this area was not blanketed in glaciers and therefore experienced mean annual air temperatures that were often -15°C (5° F) or colder. These cold air temperatures caused the development of thick permafrost. In contrast, when sea level rises during interglacial periods, as happened about 12,000 years ago, the permafrost is flooded by the relatively warm seawater. Because the permafrost here was so thick and the diffusion of heat was so slow, ancient Pleistocene permafrost bodies that are still 100’s of meters thick remain beneath the continental shelf of the Beaufort Sea, even after 12,000 years.The first systematic high-tech mapping along the edge of the continental shelf of the Canadian Beaufort Sea was conducted in 2010. These maps revealed a band of unusually rough seafloor terrain along a 95-kilometer (59-mile) stretch of the shelf, roughly 180 kilometers (110 miles) offshore. This rough topography coincided with what was once the seaward edge of that relict Pleistocene permafrost. Sections of this topography were subsequently remapped multiple times using MBARI AUVs. These repeated surveys show that multiple new sinkholes have formed in this area over just a few years. The volume of the largest new sinkhole, developed in less than 9 years, is equivalent in size to a city block of 6-story apartment buildings. The rate of morphologic change associated with the decomposing relict permafrost seen here is among the most rapid seen anywhere on Earth.Route that the Araon will take during the 2022 Arctic expedition. MBARI will be participating in the second leg (in red), from Utqiagvik to Nome.Route that the Araon will take during the 2022 Arctic expedition. MBARI will be participating in the second leg (in red), from Utqiagvik to Nome.On this upcoming expedition in August 2022, the MBARI science party will be boarding the Araon in Utqiagvik, Alaska (formerly Barrow), along with other researchers from Korea, Canada, and the US. From Utqiagvik, the Araon will transit east passing along the entire north shore of Alaska before entering into the study areas in Canadian waters.MBARI is contributing to the expedition two AUVs that are designed to map the seafloor. These untethered, free-swimming robots will descend to and independently navigate over the bottom terrain to map the seafloor along pre-programmed routes. The AUVs carry multi-beam mapping sonars that collect data at a resolution that exceeds what can be collected with a ship mounted system. These highly-detailed maps help illuminate the processes that shape the seafloor and, when conducted at repeated intervals, reveal how dynamic areas like these change over time.MBARI’s MiniROV will be used to explore and sample the freshly altered seafloor. This ROV was designed to be small and robust so that it could be easily shipped to remote ports, providing access to study areas beyond the west coast of North America. The MiniROV utilizes an articulated arm to collect water samples, sediment samples, and animals, while recordings from a high-resolution video camera provide insight about the precise context of their locations.Pre-cruise preparationsExpeditions like this take years to plan and require an enormous amount of work from numerous people from all of MBARI’s divisions. Engineering efforts, permitting acquisition, funding agreements, and safety training all begin years before we can set foot on the boat. It is only with considerable organization, and a little bit of good luck, that it all comes together to allow us conduct the research of interest to our team.Physical preparations for this expedition began at MBARI in the fall of 2021 with the building of new ROV control room specifically designed for this expedition. The space was fabricated within a 20-foot shipping container with just enough floor space reserved to house the two mapping AUVs during shipping.Tests of the new ROV control room were conducted at sea in Monterey Bay through early 2022 to ensure everything worked prior to packing, which commenced in March 2021. Two additional shipping containers were needed to hold the MiniROV, the ROV winch, and other assorted equipment needed for the expedition.Our three shipping containers had to make an arduous journey from Oakland, California to Korea before heading up to the Arctic. Transpacific shipping delays and backlogs left some of our gear behind–fortunately, it caught the last possible ship, arriving in Busan, Korea, just in the nick of time. To our knowledge all the MBARI gear is safely stowed onboard the Araon, awaiting our arrival in Utqiagvik.The two container ships which carried MBARI’s equipment to Korea. Maritime safety trainingMBARI staff enjoyed a unique experience completing a required 5-day safety training and survival class that included the basics of fighting fires, CPR, first aid, and at-sea survival. Far outside our normal routines as scientists and engineers, it had us in full fire fighter gear, donning a self-contained breathing apparatus to put out a fire in a confined space, and we had to practice jumping off a mock ship (a high dive) and flipping an overturned life raft. It was a wonderful experience that we hope to never have to use in real life.Learning how to work as a team to advance on a fire during firefighting training.Life raft flipping test. Expedition Logs Expedition Log Cruise summary of the Northern 2016 expedition 08.16.16 Expedition Log Deep-sea bamboo corals at Guide Seamount 08.15.16 Expedition Log A tricky repair using the ROV manipulator arm 08.13.16 Expedition Log Large flows in Axial Seamount 08.12.16 Expedition Log Exploring lava flows from a 2015 eruption 08.11.16 Expedition Log An unexpected find of black smoker chimneys 08.10.16 Expedition Log Push cores at Axial Seamount 08.09.16 Expedition Log High-resolution mapping at Axial Seamount 08.08.16 Expedition Log Port stop in Newport, Oregon 08.04.16 Expedition Log Steaming to port in Newport, Oregon 08.03.16 Expedition Log Push core sampling at the Vance Segment 08.02.16 Expedition Log Observations at the CASM vent site 08.01.16 Expedition Log Sampling fluid from a hydrothermal vent 07.31.16 Expedition Log A fruitful first dive 07.30.16 Expedition Log In transit to the first dive site 07.29.16 Expedition Log Bad weather conditions persist 07.28.16 Expedition Log High winds and tall swells 07.27.16 Expedition Log First day of transit 07.26.16 Team Directory Eve Lundsten Senior Research Technician Charles K. Paull Senior Scientist CollaboratorsJong Kuk Hong (Korean Polar Research Institute), Young Keun Jin (Korean Polar Research Institute), Tae Siek Rhee (Korean Polar Research Institute), Scott Dallimore (Geological Survey of Canada). Mathieu Duchesne (Geological Survey of Canada) Technologies All Technologies Vehicle, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) ROV Doc Ricketts Technology ROV Doc Ricketts An integrated unmanned submersible research platform with features providing efficient, reliable, and precise sampling and data collection.