April 21, 2000
Hello from Ms. Elliot’s 6th grade class!
We are thoroughly enjoying your updates and observations and
we have come up with a few questions ourselves. Keep up the good
Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!
The 6th grade at Murray Language Academy
Hi Ms. Elliot and the 6th Grade Class at Murray Language Academy:
Thanks for following our expedition and the Dive and Discover
web site, and your great questions. Here are my responses.
Why can’t humans go down to the ocean floor instead of
the robots? - Brittany J.
Humans can go down to the ocean floor.
Small research submersibles, like Alvin, can go to 4500 meters
depth and carry 2 scientists and 1 pilot to carry out scientific
research in the deep ocean. Other countries also have deep diving
submersibles. France has one called Nautile, which takes 2 pilots
and 1 observer to seafloor depths as great as 6000 meters. Japan
has the Shinkai 6500 which also takes 2 pilots and 1 observer
to depths as great as 6500 meters. To learn more about Alvin,
look at the Oceanographic Tools section in the “About the Cruise” section
of our web site.
What are some unexpected findings you have encountered? - Brittany
Well, we have learned that there are many differences between
various segments of the East Pacific Rise in terms of the style
of recent volcanism and the types, or morphology, of lava that
has been produced. We have also discovered some new lava flows
in areas where the seismic data told us there had been recent
What does DSL 120 stand for? - Arrie
It stands for “Deep Submergence Laboratory” -
120 kiloHertz (which is the frequency of the sonar). The Deep
Submergence Laboratory is a division of the Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution where scientists and engineers do research on deep
ocean engineering problems that cover many different branches
of oceanographic science.
How many volcanoes have you tracked so far? - Dana
We have looked at many small volcanoes on the East Pacific Rise
crest, probably too many to even count! Hundreds, perhaps,
if you count all the small cones that we have imaged using
the DSL-120 sonar.
What actually causes the eruption? - Leonard
The eruption is caused by magma moving through the crust and
erupting on the seafloor. At times, the heat and pressure in
the upper mantle become too much for the magma chamber to keep
in, so the hot, molten magma cracks into the crust. The feeders
from the magma chamber are called dikes and they transport
magma to the seafloor where it erupts as lava.
How often do volcanoes erupt? - Ron
On the mid-ocean ridge, it is likely that
as you are reading this, somewhere along the more than 70,000
kilometer length of the global mid-ocean ridge, there is an eruption.
On land, volcanoes erupt at different times depending on where
they are. The most active volcanoes are usually along a plate
boundary. For instance all the volcanoes in the “ring of fire” around
the Pacific Ocean basin are volcanoes associated with the subducting
oceanic plate under the continents. Big volcanoes in South
America, along the Andes mountains, up in the Aleutian Islands,
and in Japan are all forming and erupting because of the subducting
oceanic plate. You can read more about this in the Plate Tectonics
infomod in the “Deeper Discovery” part of our web
Has ocean pollution had any effect on your study? - Ivory
No, we have been working in the open ocean and thankfully have
not seen any evidence of pollution.
What kind of education/college is needed in this field? - Justin
You need to get a good, broad undergraduate
education at a college or university. It is normal for future
oceanographers to specialize in chemistry, physics, geology or
biology so getting a good foundation in those branches of science
is important. It is equally important to take lots of English,
writing, and history courses so that you are well-rounded. After
getting a Bachelor’s
degree, people then get Masters or Doctoral degrees which further
focus their interests and expertise. Getting an advanced degree
allows scientists to submit proposals to federal funding agencies
and also to develop teaching and research careers.
What are other sites for future interest? - Bryana
We will be exploring more areas on the East Pacific Rise and
also the Indian Ocean next year. Keep checking back for new
seafloor areas where we will be exploring using deep submergence
What types of life reside at ocean floor? - Garrett
Take a look at the Vent Biology section
of our website under “Deeper
Discovery” for information about animals on the seafloor
near mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal vents. On the deep sea floor
away from vents you find starfish, sponges, urchins and sea cucumbers.
There are also some specialized types of fishes that live in
the deep ocean.
Thanks to all of you for your questions. Keep Diving and Discovering
I just had the opportunity to see the Woods Hole community recently
while on active duty at Otis Air Base. Can you tell me if you
see a lot of debris in the middle of the ocean. while I was with
the navy in 1978 we saw a lot of garbage in the middle of the
ocean. What do you do with all your garbage?
We thankfully have not seen any garbage on the seafloor during
our exploration on this cruise. We dispose of our organic garbage
by processing it on board the ship, much like treatment plants
on land, and then we overboard it into the water. All of this
is in strict compliance with Coast Guard regulations. We never
put any plastic into the water, we burn or compact it, and bring
it to shore.
Thanks for your questions and keep Diving and Discovering with
To whom it may concern:
I was wondering if you could give me some information, and or
websites about Marine Biology. I am only in grade school but
I would like to look into several future careers. Thank you in
advance for and help that you can give me.
Your question was sent back to me on shore to answer because
the scientists at sea do not have the facilities out there to
be able to help you. There is a very good web site put together
by Hopkins Marine Station that is part of Stanford University.
It has links to about 24 web sites that deal with careers in
ocean science. The address is: http://www-marine.stanford.edu/HMSweb/careers.html.
Take a look -- I think it will point you in the right direction!
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution