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Coming Soon: Characterizing Venting and Seepage Along the California Coast

Hydrothermal vent and hydrocarbon seeps have been an important subject of oceanographic research over the last 35 years. Nevertheless, there are still many long-standing questions about these dynamic ecosystems, including their distribution and abundance in our ocean. Notably, the habitats are so unique that they mimic what environments might be like on other planets; this is why research expeditions to vent systems are so critical to space exploration missions.

During this 17-day interdisciplinary expedition, the research team led by Dr. Peter Girguis of Harvard University will test new instruments that can work autonomously in these undersea environments, much like future NASA ocean exploration robots will do. To test these new technologies, the scientists will be deploying them in the Southern California Borderland, to characterize the geological, geochemical, and biological attributes of the vent and seep ecosystems. The goal of these characterizations is to determine if vents and seeps along the California coast are ecologically connected to vent sites both North (Washington) and South (Mexico) of California.

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