Ocean frontier revealed: scientists to describe unexpected discoveries of arctic research cruise

November 19, 2001

Undersea vents, sonar maps, deep-earth samples featured

The Arctic Ocean is one of Earth's least explored oceanic frontiers. Last summer, a research team aboard USCGC Healy, the U.S. Coast Guard's newest icebreaker, exceeded its most ambitious hopes to map the ocean's floor and reveal geological and biological features of the underwater Gakkel Ridge.

Despite prevailing scientific opinion to the contrary, the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded team discovered evidence of hydrothermal activity along the Gakkel Ridge including a field of undersea vents. The science party also dredged up sponges and other marine life previously not known to survive in the frigid Arctic waters; used sonar to map the ridge at a level of detail that was thought impossible aboard a working icebreaker; and was able to sample the deep interior of the earth rising directly to the seafloor as solid rock through a "great gash" dotted with volcanoes.

"This incredibly successful voyage for Healy exceeded all expectations in every department," said chief scientist Peter Michael of the University of Tulsa. Michael will join other Healy researchers, a classroom teacher who worked with the science team, and a Coast Guard representative at the National Press Club to describe the Healy's voyage.

Who: Peter Michael, University of Tulsa
Tom Pyle, NSF's Office of Polar Programs
Michelle Adams, teacher at Musselman Middle School
Henry Dick, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Rear Adm. Jeffrey M. Garrett, U.S. Coast Guard
Charles Langmuir, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

What: Highlights of the Healy's voyage

When: Wednesday, November 28, 1 p.m.

Where: First Amendment Lounge
National Press Club
14th and F Sts. NW (Metro Center Stop)
Washington, D.C.
-end-
For more information contact: NSF: Peter West, 703-292-8070, pwest@nsf.gov

Broadcasters:

For B-Roll of the Healy and the ship's voyage to the Gakkel Ridge on Betacam SP, contact NSF's Dena Headlee, 703-292-8070, dheadlee@nsf.gov. The event will be Webcast.

National Science Foundation

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