Kids Study Underwater Volcanoes

A team of researchers from the University of Hawaii and Pacific Northwest researchers are currently at sea on the R/V Falkor, studying the sub-marine volcanoes of Tonga. This month Dr. Ken Rubin and his research team have had the opportunity to return to one of the most active underwater volcano sites in the world, the Meta Volcano group. Located in the Pacific in waters off of Tonga are an excellent natural laboratory containing perhaps the largest number of individual, closely-spaced volcanoes globally.

Thousands of submarine mountains lay scattered throughout the deep oceans and nearly all of them are volcanoes. Aboard R/V Falkor, the group is going to the volcanic region to obtain a detailed geological understanding of up to 12 different submarine volcanoes. What makes this expedition unique is that the team will attempt to do this across a suite of volcanoes for the very first time. The goal is to reveal the interplay between volcanic and hydrothermal activity, and the evolving seafloor ecology. The team will construct a recent history of each volcano and how it has been colonized, identifying why each submarine volcano is present, how long it took to form, and how it developed and maintains hydrothermal activity.

For the third year in a row, Schmidt Ocean Institute has offered to provide a Ship to Shore Classroom Connection from the R/V Falkor. Through the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, students in grades 5-12 classrooms on the Oregon coast will get this opportunity this December. The experience will involve a 30 to 40 minute call during which a student group will take a virtual tour of the ship, see in real time what is happening on board, and interact with members of the science team to talk about the work they are doing. The experience will end with a short period of Q&A.

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