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Getting up close to underwater volcanoes

29 May 2015

Sam Mitchell, current fourth year student in the School of Earth Sciences, took part in an international cruise in March to the South West Pacific to study underwater volcanic eruptions!

This March, an international team of scientists, technicians, and engineers from 11 different institutions took to the waters of the South West Pacific aboard the R/V Roger Revelle to investigate what is likely the largest recorded submarine explosive eruption in history. Sam Mitchell joined this expedition, led by Dr. Rebecca Carey (University of Tasmania) and Dr. Adam Soule (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), and spent 3 weeks at sea in the New Zealand Kermadec Arc, mapping and sampling the seafloor at Havre Volcano using the Automated Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Sentry and Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Jason.  

‌A large, explosive eruption at Havre Volcano in July 2012 was only revealed when a passenger of a commercial airliner spotted large rafts of pumice floating on the surface of the ocean, which is still washing up on the shores of Australia. Jason allowed the science team to collect over 300 rock and sediment samples from the seafloor during the expedition and Sentry provided the team with the first high-resolution bathymetry data of Havre's caldera and eruptive deposits. The samples and data collected are currently being analysed across the globe in order to better understand submarine, explosive eruptions. 

The research will form part of Sam’s PhD project at the University of Hawaii.

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