Non-Living Marine Resources Projects
1) Submarine Volcanism and Hydrothermal Venting
Over 80% of the Earth’s volcanism occurs in the deep ocean. Although deep submarine eruptions are the most common means whereby heat and mass are transported from the hot interior of the Earth to its crustal surface, understanding the physical, chemical, and biological ocean environmental impacts of these volcanic events is in its infancy. At present, there are no means to detect and locate deep volcanic eruptions using either land-based or ocean surface observational systems and, to date, only a handful of active deep eruptions have been observed.
Through new and/or innovative application of ocean surveying, mapping, and monitoring technologies, the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research seeks to discover how this planetary-scale process, along with associated hydrothermal venting, is impacting the oceanic water column and how it manifests conditions that sustain both micro- and macro-biological ecosystems.
Highlights of recent discoveries include:
- Sustained, years-long active eruptions of lava from submarine arc volcanoes
- Large-volume venting of carbon dioxide from subduction zone volcanism
- Local to regional ocean acidification of both chemosynthetic and photosynthetic ecosystems caused by hydrothermal sources of both carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide
- Distinct micro- and macro-biological communities associated with highly variable, volcano to volcano, vent fluid chemistries