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

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>