By Ken Kostel
This evening, at about 4:30 p.m. local time, the Jason Team launched Jason for the first time on this cruise. This remotely operated underwater vehicle will allow us to explore the seafloor and collect samples while we watch from the surface. More than a dozen scientists, engineers, technicians, and support staff make up the Jason Team and specialise in maintenance and operation of the vehicle. The team is based at the WHOI, but travels with Jason on expeditions around the world. Read more about the vehicle and watch the vehicle being launched at the official site now.
The photos are of Jason going down, Dr Rebecca Carey checking the samples that are being brought to the surface and a strange sea creature captured on film. What is it?
We do know that the types of rocks and deposits we find will not only tell us about the eruption that occurred here at Havre in 2012, but will also teach us about how volcanoes erupt underwater and why they sometimes erupt explosively. Until three years ago no one had seen an eruption like Havre 2012. Until now, no one has observed or made quantitative measurements of recent deposits from a deep, explosive submarine eruption. As a result, some very basic science questions have yet to be answered, despite the fact that the vast majority of volcanic activity on Earth occurring underwater.
As I type Jason is descending descends to Havre’s caldera 1600 meters (1 mile) beneath the surface on the seafloor. In a few hours we may start making our first discoveries. A lot of effort and expertise from dozens of people and institutions has made this expedition possible, and to make the most of our resources, the science and Jason teams will be operating the vehicle around-the-clock.
The rock samples and observations from the Jason dives will be the first of their kind, and the data we collect may very well spawn new models for submarine volcanism and stand as lasting and substantial contributions to planetary volcanology.
We are nearing the bottom now and I can’t wait to get started.