“Peering beneath an Erupting Volcano on the Bottom of the Ocean” with Suzanne M. Carbotte (Mar 2012)

by | Jul 24, 2023 | Earthquakes & Volcanoes, Uncategorized

Originally presented 10 Mar 2012

Most of the volcanic eruptions that occur on earth are located far from view, on the bottom of the ocean, where seafloor spreading occurs, along a vast mountain chain known as the Mid-Ocean Ridge. Due to the extreme difficulty of making observations in this remote environment, only a handful of volcanic eruptions have been directly observed. One of the few locations where an eruption has been detected is the fast-spreading East Pacific Rise at ~9°N. Here, instruments deployed to monitor the region after an eruption in 1991, were fortuitously in place and continued to operate through a second eruption in 2005-2006. In addition to this documented history of volcanic eruptions, the region is also one of vigorous venting of hot water from the seafloor, abundant hydrothermal mineral deposits, and elaborate animal communities that thrive in the absence of sunlight through chemosynthesis. Focused investigations in this region over the past two decades have enabled us to document how the system evolved between the two eruptions and to construct views of the surface of this active seafloor volcano of unprecedented detail.

Introduction to this Workshop

Introductory PowerPoint   pdf

Cutting-Edge Research

In summer 2008 we conducted the first 3D multi-channel seismic investigation aboard the R/V Langseth, the new seismic ship operated by Lamont. The goals of our program are to create an accurate 3D seismic reflection image of the magmatic-hydrothermal system at the EPR ISS by imaging the structure of the axial magma chamber (AMC) lid and shallow oceanic crust at a resolution, geometric accuracy, and scale comparable to seafloor observations of hydrothermal, biological, and volcanic activity….

CONTINUED AT http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~carbotte/

Classroom Resources

Ridge 2000 is a multidisciplinary science research program focused on integrated
geological and biological studies of the Earth-encircling oceanic spreading center system.
The National Science Foundation supports the program as a component of its
Earth & Environmental Science research. The program has two main themes:

  • Integrated Studies focus and coordinate research activities at a few carefully chosen sites in the Pacific, recognizing that the complex linkages
    between life and planetary processes at mid-ocean ridges can only be understood through tightly integrated studies that span a broad range of disciplines.
  • Time Critical Studies are designed to enhance detection of volcanic and other transient events on the mid-ocean ridge and to facilitate rapid-response missions that can observe, record, and sample critical transient phenomena. These studies are largely limited to the Northeast Pacific at this time.

The Ridge 2000 Program is committed to sharing mid-ocean ridge research and discoveries with multiple
audiences in a variety of offerings.

FLEXE/GLOBE (From Local to Extreme Environments)
The Ridge2000 program sponsors FLEXE, an Earth Systems Science project of GLOBE. FLEXE
features web-based data-oriented activities and is designed for middle/high school students interested
in learning about the deep-sea in the context of their own environment. FLEXE is a four-year project
funded by the National Science Foundation and is in final development and testing phase.


Dive and Discover Expeditions to the Sea Floor
     For Teachers: http://www.divediscover.whoi.edu/teachers.html

Other Resources for This Topic

LDEO East Pacific Rise ResearchGeoMapApp Mid-Ocean Ridges Image Gallery
Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS): East Pacific RiseRidge 2000 SEAS: Student Experiments at Sea
Scripps Institute of Oceanography East Pacific Rise ResearchWHOI Dive and Discover: Expedition to the East Pacific Rise
NOAA Ocean Explorer: History–Age of Electronics

Integrating Educational Technologies

General suggestions: Integrating Educational Technologies into Your Classrooms

Your assignment: Using Featured Films with Your Classes

The “Multimedia” section of this Workshop highlights two featured films about research into ocean ridge processes, “Aliens of the Deep” and “Volcanoes of the Deep Sea.”

1) What characteristics make featured films effective as a classroom teaching tool?

2) When should featured films be used for full-class instruction, and when should they be used for small groups or individual projects?

3) Describe strategies to locate suitable feature films for your classes.


4) Design a lesson plan that incorporates at least one feature film.

E2C Follow-up:

You may send your model lesson and other responses to this “assignment” to michael@earth2class.org. If suitable, we will post your work in the E2C lesson plans and/or add them to this section of the Workshop website.