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Alvin Science Use Cases

Census of Marine Life

Graduate Student Andrew Thurber and Prof. Lisa Levin (both at Scripps Institution of Oceanography) each led expeditions using NDSF vehicles in 2010, one using the AUV ABE (predecessor to Sentry) and the other using the HOV Alvin to investigate benthic communities along the active ocean margins of Chile and Costa Rica. As well as the discovery of new chemosynthetic habitats (including novel “hybrid” systems and more conventional hydrothermal vents and cold seeps), both expeditions resulted in the discovery of “new” species previously unknown to science.

International Ocean Drilling Project

Prof. Andrew Fisher (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Prof. James Cowen (University of Hawai’i at Manoa) have been making extensive use of the HOV Alvin and ROV Jason to conduct time-series studies of bore-hole sites in the NE Pacific along the flanks of the Juan de Fuca Ridge and on-axis at Middle Valley. Their work has involved emplacement and servicing of equipment, download of physical sensor data, and time-series biogeochemical and microbial sampling with the most recent visits completed in late June 2010, immediately prior to IODP Expedition 327.

NOAA Ocean Exploration

NOAA’s Ocean Exploration program has made extensive use of the ROV Jason to locate numerous sites of hydrothermal activity and even active volcanic eruption along the Marianas Arc (Drs. R. Embley & W. Chadwick, NOAA-PMEL). Dr. Tim Shank (WHOI) has used the HOV Alvin and AUV ABE (predecessor to Sentry) to locate new vents on the Galapagos Rift and in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. Most recently, NOAA’s OER program has supported an ongoing project led by Profs. Chuck Fisher (Pennsylvania State University) and Erik Cordes (Temple University) using the Jason ROV to investigate deep water coral and cold seep sites in the northern Gulf of Mexico, both close to and distant from the site of the Deep Water Horizon.

Ridge 2000

The Ridge 2000 program has made extensive use of NDSF vehicles throughout the past decade. In the Lau Basin (SW Pacific), Dr. Meg Tivey (WHOI) and colleagues used the ROV Jason to undertake first dives on new hydrothermal vents located by the AUV ABE. The HOV Alvin has been used to conduct numerous time-series studies on the East Pacific Rise (9°50’N) and the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Most recently, Dr. Scott Nooner (Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory) has used Alvin and Jason to investigate deformation at and close to mid-ocean ridges, conducting time-series studies of pressure measurements at “benchmark” sites on the East Pacific Rise and Juan de Fuca Ridge.