August 28, 2011

NSF Streams Live Undersea Volcano Video


Officials from the National Science Foundation (NSF) are currently streaming live video from an undersea volcano, located off the coast of Oregon, which erupted back in April.

The video feed is part of the NSF's Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) and is being overseen by Oregon State University geologist William Chadwick and his colleagues. The OSU and University of Washington scientists and engineers involved on the project are currently conducting site surveys onboard the research vessel Thomas G. Thompson, the organization said in an August 25 press release.

NSF officials say that it is the first live video from the volcano, which is located approximately 265 miles off the Oregon coast, at Axial Seamount, west of Cannon Beach.

"Surveying this site is just one example of the ways in which OOI will revolutionize the way oceanography is conducted," the foundation said in their press release. "The submarine volcano is one of OOI's primary study sites."

"OOI, a multi-scale ocean observing system, will deploy sensors in the ocean and provide a networked system that will allow open access to data from the air-sea interface through the water column to the seafloor," they added. "Scientists and engineers have been putting the finishing touches on the construction design phase of the cabled ocean observing system that forms a backbone of OOI."

They note that the primary component of the program, which has been dubbed Regional Scale Nodes, is located near the Oregon and Washington coasts.

Also, they report that the Thompson crew is currently using a vast array of "modern seagoing research tools" in their examination of the Axial Seamount site.

"Their activities are focused in the short-term on using and producing new maps of the volcanic changes that have taken place since the eruption," they added.

A disclaimer on the website housing the live video feed notes, "We will be streaming live undersea and shipboard video whenever possible. Weather conditions and ship operations may prevent live feeds. We will use Twitter to caption the live video or to indicate whether the live feed is unavailable."

The OOI, which the NSF says will have an operational timeframe of 25 years, is managed by the NSF and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. Partners and organizations assisting with the OOI program include the University of California at San Diego, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Oregon State University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of Washington, and Rutgers University.


Image Caption: This image looks into the subsurface at Axial Seamount and shows a "snowblower" vent, a collapsed lobate lava flow about 1 meter (3 feet) across with white materials (bacterial mats and biofilm materials that coat the surfaces) thriving in nutrient-rich waters that are slightly above ambient (2 degrees C) temperature. White, dense accumulations of filamentous bacteria surround the snowblower. Credit: Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility and the University of Washington


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