Explore the Deep Sea


Expedition 2: Hot Vent Hunting

Led by Chief Scientist Charlie Langmuir (left), the second of five expeditions to the Lau Basin (in September 2004) searched within the area mapped by the first expedition. It had several aims:

Chief scientist Charlie Langmuir inspects rocks brought up by the dredge. Image courtesy of K. Kusek

More than twenty researchers and students from over a dozen research institutions took part, studying everything from the chemical composition of seawater to the distribution of animals. Findings were passed to the third expedition. Like all the expeditions in this series, the research is designed to help us understand the relationships between different components of the system in this ocean basin: how and why tectonic plates move and stretch, and how this affects the overlying ocean: its chemical make-up and the life it contains.

New vent-hunting approach works well

The submersible ABE is readied for a trip to the seafloor. Image courtesy of K. Kusek

This September 2004 expedition visited target sites where maps from the previous expedition suggested that vents might be present. Researchers tried a new method of finding active vents by searching near the seafloor in a staged way:

The approach worked well: several vents were located using this method.

Next: Expedition 3 of 5: From rocks to life