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WWU scientists leave for Pacific research cruise

Elana Pidgeon
Communications and Marketing intern
  • The Champagne vent field at NW Eifuku seamount emits droplets of liquid CO2 from the area around these white-smoker hydrothermal vents. Image courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2014 - Ironman, NOAA/PMEL.
    The Champagne vent field at NW Eifuku seamount emits droplets of liquid CO2 from the area around these white-smoker hydrothermal vents. Image courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2014 - Ironman, NOAA/PMEL.

Four investigators from Western Washington University, including a graduate student, will travel to the Submarine Ring of Fire to study hydrothermal vent sites near Guam Nov. 29 to Dec. 21.

Craig Moyer, a biology professor at Western, is the chief scientist on the cruise. Accompanying Moyer is Shawn Arellano, a marine scientist at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center.

The cruise will have a team of 30 scientists from several institutions around the world on board the research vessel “Revelle,” which is operated by Scripps Institute of Oceanography. A website with streaming video for the cruise can be found online.

“It’s great to have a coming-together of folks with different backgrounds,” Moyer said.

The expedition will have two parts: studying iron-oxidizing bacteria at hydrothermal vents and understanding how the emission of carbon dioxide from active submarine volcanoes affects the life and environment around them.

Gathering this data involves using “Jason,” a remotely operated vehicle that can operate at depths up to almost 20,000 feet.

The team wrote the proposal for the research expedition in 2009 and found out in 2011 that the trip was going to happen, Moyer said.

“It’s been a long process,” Moyer said.

The cruise is funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation. The expedition has its own website which will have daily updates and videos about the scientists’ work, lesson plans for students in grades 5-12 and an “Ask an Explorer” page. Moyer and Arellano are both looking forward to bringing what they learn back to Western.

“I'm hoping to bring back samples that undergraduates could potentially work on for independent research projects,” Arellano said. “There will be daily logs on the website so students can follow along with discoveries and also get a sense of what it is like to do deep-sea research.”

Moyer said he hopes to bring the cutting-edge research and technology into the classroom and share it with students.

“It’s amazing what kind of opportunities there are,” Moyer said. “We just had a first landing on an asteroid but there’s so much that can be explored on this planet.”

For more information, contact Craig Moyer at 360-650-7935 or cmoyer@hydro.biol.wwu.edu.

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Monday, December 1, 2014 - 11:00pm

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