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Science in the Abyss

Online workshops
6/16, 6/30, and 7/7

Expanding Deep Sea Horizons: Scientific Priorities in Abyssal Research

Workshop Description

The final phase of the HOV Alvin overhaul has begun. When completed, it will enable human-occupied submersible diving to depths to 6,500 meters, and double the U.S. research community's capacity to work at abyssal depths. The abyssal seafloor from 4500-6500 meters depth accounts for nearly one-third of the benthos and, along with the abyssal water column, represents one of the largest under-explored areas on the planet. This frontier hosts a wide array of oceanic systems including cold seeps, high-temperature hydrothermal vents, submarine volcanoes, subduction zones, mid-ocean ridges, mineral resources, and more that require trans-disciplinary research efforts to understand. In addition, there is growing recognition that the deep sea is a sensitive and important component of the global climate system. Join the team that will identify and describe the critical scientific objectives for abyssal research and the technological requirements to achieve them.  The results of our discussions will be used to develop a manuscript describing abyssal science objectives and a white paper outlining key tasks for a 6500 meter HOV Alvin Science Verification Cruise.

Workshop Logistics

Three virtual workshops will last 1.5 hours each and will focus almost entirely on small group discussions (5-7 people). A series of short presentations by subject matter experts will be available one week prior to each workshop. In order focus each session on group discussion and priorities, participants will be asked watch the presentations or read the workshop material ahead of time. 

Each workshop will be repeated at a time convenient for East and West Coast participants-individuals only need to register for one or the other. Workshop details, registration links, and pre-workshop video resources can be found on each workshop page, below.

Participants should also sign up for the workshop Slack channel to continue the discussion of all topics afterward.

Organizing Committee

Adam Soule, WHOI, Chief Scientist for Deep Submergence

Anna-Louise Reysenbach, Portland State University, Chair of DeSSC

Dorsey Wanless, Boise State University

Andreas Teske, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

Tim Shank, WHOI

Jeff Marlow, Boston University

Rika Anderson, Carleton College

Jeff Seewald, WHOI

Bruce Strickrott, WHOI, Alvin Program Manager


National Science Foundation logoThis workshop is supported by the National Science Foundation.


TUESDAY, JUNE 16, 2020

Abyssal Plains & Seamounts

Peter Auster, UConn Mystic Aquarium
Jasper Konter, SOEST UH
Steve D'Hondt, GSO URI
Jill McDermott, Lehigh Univ.

The abyssal plains, dotted with volcanic seamounts, represents the largest abyssal environment within the ocean basins.

TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 2020

Trenches & Transforms

Patty Fryer, SOEST UH
Chris German, WHOI
Karyn Rodgers, RPI
Jeffrey Drazen SOEST UH

Trenches and transforms represent two of the primary plate boundaries present in the ocean basins.


Abyssal Technology & Societal Relevance

Bruce Strickrott, WHOI
Peter Girguis, Harvard
Beth Orcutt, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Diva Amon, London NHM

At abyssal ocean depths questions require a combination of familiar and specialized technology and operational concepts.

TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2020

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Deep Sea Science

Oceanography faces a significant challenge in addressing the lack of diversity among its ranks. This workshop seeks to initiate a discussion among deep sea scientists to recognize the scope of this challenge and evaluate potential actions that we may take to begin addressing issues of systemic racism.