When an underwater volcano erupted in April off the Oregon coast, researchers knew within minutes that something spectacular was happening more than 300 miles offshore.
(From UWTODAY / by Hannah Hickey) — Precision hardware installed by the University of Washington last summer let scientists see its effects almost instantly from shore.
A team of researchers, engineers and students is now at sea to maintain that equipment and assess the volcano’s aftermath. The cruise — from July 4 to Aug. 7 aboard the UW’s Thomas G. Thompson research vessel — is the first trip to the site since the eruption.
The seafloor laboratory, where a cable brings power and the Internet to waters off the Pacific Northwest coast, provides a real-time, virtual eye on the deep sea. It’s part of the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative.
In the lead-up to this summer’s expedition, a film crew visited the UW team in early June to hear about the project:
The cruise now under way includes 18 undergraduates from the UW, Bellingham’s Western Washington University and Aberdeen’s Grays Harbor College. Majors include oceanography, fisheries, engineering and Earth sciences. The students are working around the clock to help a specialized deep-sea robot swap out sensors and platforms for annual maintenance and help scientists and engineers check in on other instruments, which include a high-definition video camera and deep-sea water and DNA sampler. They also will undertake their own self-directed science and outreach projects that will continue through the fall.