Expedition Log


Cruise summary of the Northern 2016 expedition

121o 47’ 13” W, 36o 48’ 16” N Many thanks to all involved in planning and carrying out this expedition! Successful ROV dive programs rely upon the ship’s crew, ROV pilots, and scientific party on board. Such work is truly a team effort and we are grateful to Captain Andrew McKee and Chief Engineer Matt …

Expedition Log


Deep-sea bamboo corals at Guide Seamount

37 o 1.2′ N 123o 20.7′ W Today’s ROV dive at Guide Seamount, which is a little over 100 kilometers (63 miles) due west of Davenport, California, was quite exciting and much different than the dives conducted at Axial Seamount. In comparison to Axial and its inhospitable fresh lava surfaces, Guide is a very old …

Expedition Log


A tricky repair using the ROV manipulator arm

43o 50′ N 128o 40′ W The weather is predicted to deteriorate over the next couple of days. We decided it was best not to do our last scheduled dive at Axial Seamount today. Instead, we headed south last night to get ahead of the weather. We will do a dive at Guide Seamount, which …

Expedition Log


Large flows in Axial Seamount

45o 31.9′ N 130o W The goal of today’s dive was to sample lavas and take sediment cores on large flows located on the eastern flank of the South Rift of Axial Seamount. An analysis of the recent high-resolution AUV bathymetry suggests that two of those large flows may have resulted from the same eruption. …

Expedition Log


Exploring lava flows from a 2015 eruption

46o 01.9′ N 130o 01.1′ W The ROV dive today covered lava flows of the April-May 2015 eruption on the mid-North Rift of Axial Seamount, in between those sampled yesterday and those sampled on August 1. The good folks on the R/V Rachel Carson mapped the axis of the North Rift over the past few …

Expedition Log


An unexpected find of black smoker chimneys

Bill Chadwick 46o 07.7′ N 129o 57.6′ W Today’s ROV dive was full of surprises, and one of the biggest surprises for me was finding miniature black smoker chimneys near the top of one of the thick lava flows that erupted in April-May 2015. This particular lava flow is over 60 meters thick and we …

Expedition Log


Push cores at Axial Seamount

45o 59.6′ N 129o 57.4′ W After a long steam from Newport, Oregon, we arrived to Axial Seamount about midday. Although we only had time for a short ROV dive, it was a very important dive for some of the long-standing work we have been doing here. The primary objective of today’s dive was to …

Expedition Log


High-resolution mapping at Axial Seamount

45o 37.5′ N 124o 02.7′ W We departed Newport, Oregon, at 7:00 a.m. in the fog and were welcomed back onto the northeast Pacific Ocean by surprisingly calm seas. We steamed west toward Axial Seamount at nine to 10 knots all day. The clouds remained overcast and it even sprinkled, and the seas gradually grew …

Expedition Log


Port stop in Newport, Oregon

45o 37.5′ N 124o 02.7′ W We entered Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon, this morning in heavy fog. The sun broke out just as we passed under the iconic Highway 101 bridge. We tied up promptly at 10:00 a.m. and everyone evaporated from the ship! We will resume the logs when we depart again on August 8.

Expedition Log


Steaming to port in Newport, Oregon

45o 33.9′ N 126o 46.5′ W We began steaming for port as soon as the dive on August 2nd was completed and the ROV was on deck. The wind has kicked up again so our transit will be slow and would take too long to have allowed us to get a dive at another vent …

Expedition Log


Push core sampling at the Vance Segment

Morgane Le Saout 45o 33.7′ N 129o 55.4′ W The goal of this dive was to sample the different flows from the valley of the eruptive axis of the Vance Segment toward the eastern flank of the South Rift of Axial Seamount. The Vance Segment is the next spreading ridge segment south of the one …

Expedition Log


Observations at the CASM vent site

45o 59.4′ N 130o 1.5′ W Our dive today started with biology collections at the CASM (an acronym for Canadian American Seamount) vent site on the northern caldera floor at Axial. Then we headed north up the caldera wall and crossed several old, heavily sedimented flows, and ended with geology collections on two flows that …

Expedition Log


Sampling fluid from a hydrothermal vent

44o 39.5′ N 130o 21.9′ W Today’s dive started at the same point as our short dive yesterday at a hydrothermal vent site that was named “Vent 1” by the US Geological Survey (USGS) years ago. Our priorities today were to do the fluid sampling we ran out of time for yesterday at the same …

Expedition Log


A fruitful first dive

Shannon Johnson, Robbie Young, and Corinna Breusing 44o 39.5′ N 130o 21.9′ W After a terribly long and miserable transit the weather calmed a bit and what was to be a quick test dive became an exciting reprieve from boredom, seasickness, and an otherwise helpless feeling that we’d never get any science done. We had …

Expedition Log


In transit to the first dive site

43o 43.4′ N 129o 45.8′ W at 2200 Well, we are making progress! We will pass over the Blanco transform fault zone during the night and reach our first (fingers crossed) dive target in the morning. We have had to change our dive plans considerably because of the weather. We were unable to dive at …

Expedition Log


Bad weather conditions persist

41o N 127o 29.5′ W at 1500 We are crossing the Escanaba Trough of the Gorda Ridge right now, five kilometers south of NESCA (Northern Escanaba Trough). NESCA was to have been our first dive target of this expedition but the weather continues to be awful. We held a small ceremony, waving and blowing kisses …

Expedition Log


High winds and tall swells

39o 44.8′ N 125o 29.55′ W at 1800 in the evening The wind picked up all day and with it the swells. This evening we are now SW of Cape Mendocino and heading NNW at about five knots. It is overcast; the wind is blowing 35 knots from the north and “it has definitely gotten …

Expedition Log


Northern 2016 Expedition

July 26-August 16, 2016 MBARI’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. …

Expedition Log


First day of transit

121o 47’ 13” W, 36o 48’ 16” N Our departure was timed with the high tide and we slipped from the sleepy, foggy, calm waters of the harbor into Monterey Bay right on schedule. We are eagerly anticipating exciting science on the ROV dives ahead, but we’re not at all excited about the windy weather …