Ancient Eruptions

Mission Logs

Sailing for the Sea of Crete

The R/V Endeavor has left port in southern France, and is headed for the Sea of Crete to begin the first leg of the expedition. URI Engineer and ROV Pilot Todd Gregory writes, We started work the minute we stepped on the ship this past Saturday and worked steadily until we shoved off yesterday afternoon.

We're off and running!

After a quick port stop, the R/V Endeavor is on its way to begin a side scan sonar mission in the Sea of Crete. Dwight Coleman writes, We left Iraklion at 2:00 pm today after a slight delay to get one of the ship's radars repaired. The weather is decent -- wind is 10 knots, and the sea is a little rolly. Not too bad.

Side scan sonar update

The first phase of the Sea of Crete project is finishing up. Dwight Coleman writes, Weather is great. We have collected about 300 nautical miles of side scan sonar data, 400 meters to each side, and have about 120 potential targets.

We are just about to put Echo back in for the third lowering and will be recovering at midnight tonight. We'll steam in to Iraklion, arriving around 7:30am.

Read the mission plan for the Sea of Crete project at NOAA's Ocean Explorer website. 

Immersion team arrives

The Immersion Presents team has arrived in Greece. We're joining a scientific expedition that has been going on for more than a month. During this part of the expedition, scientists will be studying the a volcanic eruption that happened about 3600 years ago on the Greek island of Thera. They will be using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) developed by the Institute for Exploration to look at volcanic materials on the seafloor. They want to understand better what happened during the ancient eruption.

The science so far

The science team has been working in the waters off Thera for four days. They have been using the remotely operated vehicles -- Argus and Hercules -- to look at rocks and other materials on the seafloor up close. They have also been collecting rock samples to bring back to the surface.

Walking around Thera

Santorini is the modern name of the island of Thera. We are here to study an ancient volcanic eruption, but being here also gives us a chance to experience some of the sights and culture of this island.

Walking on a volcano

Yesterday our group from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America got the chance to tour Thera's modern volcano. We took a short boat ride from Fira to Nea Kameni, the volcanic island in the middle of the caldera.

Lots of activity

Last night, the science team made a discovery that got everyone excited. While exploring the underwater volcano Kolumbo, northeast of Thera, they saw a very active field of hydrothermal vents. The video pictures from the ROV Argus revealed tall chimney structures with gasses bubbling out. At one point, the camera view was filled with bubbles! Around the vents, colorful bacterial mats covered the sea floor.

What happens next?

We are almost ready to leave Thera, so you may be wondering what happens next. The science team still has a lot of work to do. They must analyze all the data and samples they have collected on this expedition.

JASON Learning: A Partnership of Sea Research Foundation and National Geographic