The second Duke University-led expedition since 1999 to a deep underwater canyon will take geologists to another place in the eastern Pacific Ocean where new sea floor was forged out of volcanic lava within the past several million years.
The Pito Deep trough, positioned as deep as 19,600 feet below the ocean’s surface just west of Easter Island, will offer scientists a rare chance to study the internal geology of such ocean floor crust making processes.
The internal geology is accessible in the rift because it opens up the geologically young crust like a layer cake slice as thick as 1 1/2 miles, exposing now cooled and hardened conduits that once channeled molten rock towards the ocean floor surface. "Our investigation will look at the architecture of the crust and the composition of the rock that’s there," said the expedition’s chief scientist, Jeff Karson, who is a geology professor with Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. "There will always be surprises," Karson added. "We know so little about the submerged part of our planet that we find something new and exciting virtually every time we travel to the seafloor."
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