Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Expedition to second undersea canyon will study differences in ocean crust construction

14.01.2005


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."



Working from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution-based research ship R/V Atlantis, the scientists expect to be positioned over Pito Deep between Jan. 31 and Feb. 28.

A Nicholas School web site http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/pitodeep/ will be following the action as the scientists use the research submarine Alvin to explore the canyon’s walls, as well as dispatching an underwater robotic craft called Jason II to make photos and videos of the rockscape.

In 1999 Karson was also chief scientist on an expedition aboard the same ship to a larger eastern Pacific canyon called Hess Deep, located near the Galapagos Islands. Both Hess Deep and Pito Deep cut into crust created along different stretches of the East Pacific Rise, part of the volcanic ocean ridge system that circles the globe.

In a continuing process, new ocean crust forms at the East Pacific Rise when hot molten rock -- called "magma" -- erupts and cools in subsurface magma chambers. As it cools and solidifies, the resulting newly made crust then creeps away from the ridge axis like a slow motion conveyor belt. The new expedition will target differences between Pito Deep and Hess Deep rather than the similarities.

New crust made at Pito Deep creeps away from the East Pacific Rise at a rate greater than 144 millimeters a year, which geologists call "superfast." That contrasts with a migration rate of only 110 millimeters at Hess Deep, considered merely "fast." A millimeter is about 0.4 inches. "Our upcoming work at Pito Deep aims to explore whether there are identifiable differences in the structure and composition of ocean crust as a function of those differing spreading rates," said Emily Klein, a Nicholas School associate geology professor who will be among the expedition’s other principal investigators.

Karson and Klein will be joined by three other principal investigators, David Naar of the University of South Florida, Richard Hey of the University of Hawaii and Jeff Gee of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

Other participating scientists will include Bob Varga of the College of Wooster in Ohio, Katherine Gillis of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Stephen Hurst of the University of Illinois and Christopher Popham of the University of Rhode Island.

Five graduate students from Duke and other institutions will also participate in the cruise. Klein, Varga, Gillis and Hurst were previously on the 1999 Hess Deep cruise along with Karson.

Monte Basgall | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/pitodeep/
http://www.duke.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>