Robert Zierenberg is an emeritus professor of Geology in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California-Davis. His research has focused on water/rock interactions in hydrothermal systems, including submarine hot springs on the mid-ocean ridge spreading centers and active geothermal systems that produce electricity with low carbon emissions. He was an undergraduate at University of California, Berkeley. His PhD is from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he worked on the largest known, but now relatively forgotten, seafloor mineral deposit, the Atlantis II Deep in the Red Sea, and on the first active black smoker to be discovered at 21° N on the East Pacific Rise. He has participated in more than 25 research cruises on 14 different ships, including scientific drilling of seafloor hydrothermal systems on the Juan de Fuca/Gorda seafloor spreading center off-shore of northwestern North America.
He is also a member of the international science team participating in the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) whose goal is to produce electricity from deep, very high temperature fluids. The IDDP-1 hole was drilled in the Krafla Geothermal field in northern Iceland. Drilling ended at 2.1 Km depth when the drill hole unexpectedly encountered a high silica rhyolite magma. The well was the world’s highest temperature producing geothermal (452° C). The IDDP-2 well was drilled to 4.5 km depth in the Reykjanes Geothermal field in southwestern Iceland where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge comes ashore. This geothermal field is recharged by seawater and it has a chemical composition similar to seafloor black smoker systems. Research on rock recovered from the bottom of the well suggest the deep hydrothermal fluids in this hole have a temperature of >550° C, but the year long process allowing the hole to heat up after drilling has just begun and we have yet to sample the fluids at the bottom of the well.
Rob was fortunate enough to be a scientist on board the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s ship Western Flyer in 2015 for the initial ROV dive on the Pescadero Basin hydrothermal field, which took place on his birthday.