Thursday May 2, 2024


The pace of discovery in the oceans leaped forward thanks to teamwork between a deep-sea robot and a human occupied submarine leading to the recent discovery of five new hydrothermal vents in the eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean.

A team of ocean scientists, led by chief scientist and Lehigh faculty member Jill McDermott, returned to port March 26 in San Diego from a research expedition in the eastern Pacific Ocean where they discovered the new deep-sea hydrothermal vent sites on the seafloor at 2,550 meters (8,366 feet, or 1.6 miles) depth.

The venting fluids are all hotter than 300°C (570°F). The discovery was supported, and in many ways accelerated, by making use of the unique strengths offered by robotic and human exploration of the deep seafloor.

The newly discovered vents are located on the East Pacific Rise (EPR) near 10°N latitude, a part of the globe-spanning mid-ocean ridge volcanic mountain chain, where two tectonic plates are splitting apart at a rate of about 11 centimeters (4.3 inches) per year. Scientists on the expedition mapped the area at night using the undersea robot Sentry, an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s (WHOI) National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF).

Read more >

Link copied successfully